Board overlooked evidence in denying earlier effective date for PTSD rating

Board overlooked evidence in denying earlier effective date for PTSD rating

Summary

The Veteran served in the United States Army from January of 1968 to January of 1973.  He initially applied for VA disability compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2001 and was denied.  He filed multiple claims in an attempt to reopen the issue and was finally granted service connection at a 0% rating back to March of 2009.  Later the Veteran sought mental health treatment for his severe PTSD in March of 2011.  Due to the severity of his symptoms, the VA took his treatment as an informal claim for an increased rating above 0%.  In March of 2012, the Veteran’s rating was increased to 50% back to October of 2011.

Board denies earlier effective date of 50% prior to March of 2011

In May of 2012, the Veteran appealed his case to the Board.  He was later granted an increased rating to 70% back to October of 2015, but still sought an earlier effective date for his 50% rating.  After several appeals and adjustments to his ratings, the Board of Veterans Appeals issued a decision in February of 2016.  The Board found that the Veteran was entitled to a rating of 50% back to March 2011, but no earlier.  In its decision, the Board found that “the earliest date that [was] is factually ascertainable” that the appellant was experiencing symptoms aligning with a 50% rating for his PTSD was March of 2011.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims the Board decision that denied the Veteran an earlier effective date for a 50%  disability rating for PTSD.  The Board granted a 50% rating back to March of 2011.  This date corresponded to the date of an informal claim filed in 2011.  However, in the Veteran’s treatment records, he reported symptoms aligning with a 50% rating during the period before March of 2011.  A May 2011 treatment note showed Appellant’s history of anger, irritability, difficulties with concentration, and a reported attempt to kill himself around November of 2010.

CAVC sets aside the Board’s decision

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it overlooked favorable retrospective evidence in its finding that a 50% rating prior to March 23, 2011 was not factually ascertainable.  The Court set aside the Board’s decision and remanded the case back to the Board. The Veteran now has an opportunity to submit additional evidence to illustrate the severity of his symptoms prior to 2011.

To read the Court’s decision, click here. 

Category: Court Wins