Denial of increased rating for PTSD contained legal error

Denial of increased rating for PTSD contained legal error

Summary

The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War era.  During the Veteran’s time in service, she was sexually assaulted.  The Veteran first filed for service connection for PTSD in April of 1997.  In June of 1999, the VA denied the claim.  In October of 2009, the Veteran sought to reopen the service connection claim for PTSD.  She had a VA examination in 2010, from which the examiner concluded that her symptoms caused impairment in social, occupational, and other areas of functioning.  The examiner also concluded that these symptoms were chronic.

The VA awarded service connection at a 10% rating in August of 1010.  Later, in 2012, the Veteran underwent another VA examination.  The examiner noted multiple symptoms that caused clinically significant impairment in social and occupational functioning.  The Veteran’s appeal eventually went before the Board which denied a rating in excess of 10% prior to September 9, 2011.  In its decision, the Board listed symptoms the Veteran did not experience, stated that the Veteran had denied suicidal or homicidal ideation, and that the symptoms did not impair her ability to work.

Court agrees that Board committed error in denial of increased rating for PTSD prior to September of 2011

CCK successfully appealed this issue to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  The Court concluded that the Board had provided an inadequate statement of reasons or bases for its denial of a rating in excess of 10% prior to September 0f 2011.  In denying the Veteran a higher rating, the Court found that the Board failed to explain why the Veteran’s anger problems were not severe enough to warrant a higher rating simply because they were not accompanied by outbursts.  The Board also failed to explain why the fact that the Veteran provided care for her niece and granddaughters was evidence of social functioning.

Accordingly, the Court vacated the Board’s decision and remanded the case back to the Board with instructions for it to make a new determination concerning the proper rating for the PTSD concerning the period in question.

Category: Court Wins