BVA errs in denial of higher rating for PTSD, earlier effective date for TDIU

BVA errs in denial of higher rating for PTSD, earlier effective date for TDIU

History of the claim

The Veteran served on active duty from August 1966 to July 1969.  His service included combat in Vietnam.  The Veteran came into contact with the enemy through firefights and incoming rounds of rockets and mortars.  The Regional Office eventually granted him service connection for PTSD rated 50%, effective January 2002.  He also received entitlement to TDIU effective June 8, 2005.

The Veteran timely appealed for a higher rating for PTSD, as well as an earlier effective date for TDIU.  From January 2002 to June 2005, the Veteran experienced depression, irritability, sleep difficulties, social isolation, anger problems including physical fights, poor short term memory, poor communication, intrusive thoughts, and auditory hallucinations.  A June 2005 VA examination reflected that the Veteran engaged  in a fistfight one month before.  The Veteran also reported going to jail a year before for disorderly conduct.

Board denied higher rating for PTSD and earlier effective date for TDIU

The Board denied a rating in excess of 50% for PTSD from August 5, 2002 to June 7, 2005.  It also found the criteria for TDIU not met prior to June 8, 2005.  The Veteran appealed this Board decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Court determines Board erred

The Court determined that the Board provided an inadequate statement of reasons and bases for denying the Veteran a higher rating for PTSD for the period between August 5, 2002, and June 7, 2005, and for denying an effective date for TDIU prior to June 8, 2005.  Specifically, the Court found that the Board failed to adequately explain why it chose June 8, 2005, as the date the Veteran’s condition worsened.

The Veteran was granted TDIU and an increased rating based on the June 8, 2005 VA examination.  Yet this examination described the Veteran’s condition prior to that date.  For example, the Veteran reported his imprisonment for fighting which occurred a year before the examination. The Court found that it was unclear why the Veteran was not entitled to a higher rating for PTSD for the period prior to June 8, 2005, nor an earlier effective date for his grant of TDIU.  Therefore, the Court vacated the Board decision and remanded both matters for the Board to provide an adequate statement of reasons and bases for its treatment of the June 8, 2005, VA examination.

To read a copy of the Court’s decision, click here. 

Category: Court Wins