Summary of the Case
The Veteran served honorably in the United States Army from 1995 to 2002, and again from 2003 to 2005. He deployed to Iraq where he experienced mortar attacks and IED attacks. Some of his friends and fellow service members died or were seriously injured during these events. After returning from service, he felt fatigued, had difficulty managing his anger, and lacked motivation. He worked as a police officer but felt increased anxiety and stress at work.
VA awarded service connection for PTSD but assigned only a 10% rating, which the Veteran appealed. Throughout the appeal period, the Veteran’s symptoms worsened to the point where he left his job as a police officer. He and his wife divorced, and he no longer spoke to his children. VA eventually increased his disability rating to 50% for the time period prior to 2015, and a 100% rating from 2015, which is when he stopped working. The Veteran continued to appeal for a higher rating for the first time period.
VA denies the Veteran a higher rating in excess of 50% for PTSD
In May 2016, the Board awarded a 70% rating for the Veteran’s PTSD effective 2011. However, this decision denied a rating in excess of 50% for the time period prior to that date. It acknowledged that the Veteran had impairment in family relationships, depression, panic attacks, and work impairment, but concluded these symptoms were not severe enough to warrant a higher rating. It specifically relied on the fact that the Veteran continued to work during this time period. With CCK’s help, the Veteran appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
CCK appeals to Court; CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments
CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it denied a rating higher than 50% for the Veteran’s PTSD. The Court held that the Veteran’s employment during this time did not preclude a higher rating. The Court also agreed that the Board ignored evidence indicating significant work impairment, including panic attacks at work and difficulty dealing with supervisors. It also found that the Board did not properly analyze favorable evidence indicating a higher degree of impairment. Instead, the Board incorrectly listed the Veteran’s symptoms and concluded “without further explanation” that a 50% rating was warranted.
The Court vacated the Board’s decision and remanded the Veteran’s claim for further adjudication.