BVA wrongly denies increased rating for PTSD disability based on inadequate reasons or bases

BVA wrongly denies increased rating for PTSD disability based on inadequate reasons or bases


The Veteran served on active duty in the Army from February 1969 to November 1970, with service in Vietnam.  He filed a claim for service connection for PTSD in September 2009.  The Regional Office granted  him a 30% rating in December of that year.  After appealing his case, the RO increased the Veteran’s PTSD to 50 percent in July 2011 effective September 2009.  However, the Veteran appealed again and was granted an increased rating of 70% effective November 2011.

The Board denies the Veteran an Increased rating for his PTSD disability

The Veteran appealed his decision multiple times before the Board finally issued a decison in August 2016.  The Board denied the Veteran an increased rating for both time periods.  In its decision, it  disregarded notations of suicidal ideation, the Veteran’s GAF scores ranging from 45-50, his difficultly adapting to stressful circumstances, and his inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.  The Board also remanded TDIU for further development of all the Veteran’s service-connected disabilities, while deciding the record was complete in regards to PTSD.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court the denial of an increased rating for the Veteran’s PTSD  disability in excess of 50% prior to November 16, 2011, and in excess of 70% thereafter.  Like CCK argued, the Court found the Board violated Brambley v. Principi because it remanded TDIU to undertake development of all service-connected disabilities.  The Court also agreed that the Board failed to explain why the Nov. 16, 2011 effective date for the 70% rating increase was proper.  The Court agreed that CCK showed “ample other dates relevant to his appeal that could have been chosen as the proper effective date.”

Furthermore, the Board stated that it found only one notation of suicidal ideation on record. CCK found three.  The Court agreed that the Board should have provided adequate reasons or bases for discounting the other notations of suicidal ideation.  CCK also argued that the Board improperly discounted the Veteran’s GAF scores between the 45-50 range.  The Board said it did not find the 45-50 to be significantly probative when considered in light of the actual symptoms described to form the basis of those scores.  The Court agreed with CCK that seven out of the 10 GAF scores were between 45-50.  Therefore, the Board’s assertion that “most scores” were between 50-60s was simply incorrect.  Based on these issues, the Court remanded the Veteran’s claim for further adjudication.

Category: Court Wins