The Veteran served honorably in the United States Marine Corps from August of 1966 through February of 1969, including service in Vietnam. The Veteran filed for service-connected compensation for his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in August of 2010. In a February 2011 rating decision, the Regional Office granted the Veteran service connection for PTSD at 30%, effective August 20, 2010. In August of 2011, the Veteran filed a Notice of Disagreement with the February 2011 rating decision requesting a higher rating for his PTSD. In a May 2012 Statement of the Case, VA continued the Veteran’s 30% rating. The Veteran perfected his appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals that same month.
Board denies rating in excess of 70% for PTSD
In an April 2015 rating decision, VA increased the Veteran’s rating for PTSD to 50%, effective April of 2015. The Board, in a January 29, 2016 decision denied the Veteran a rating higher than 50%. The Board found that the Veteran did not have more than deficiencies in most areas and was not entitled to an increased disability rating.
CCK appeals to the Court
CCK successfully appealed to Court of Appeals for Veteran’s Claims (CAVC) the denial of an increased rating for the Veteran’s service-connected PTSD. The Board denied a higher rating because it found that the Veteran’s suicidal ideation was not contemplated by the 70% rating criteria. Specifically, the Veteran neither had a plan, nor had he attempted to commit suicide in the past. The Board also based the denial on the conclusions of a VA examination report.
CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments
CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it denied the Veteran a higher rating for his PTSD. The Board noted that the Veteran has suicidal ideation and the Court found that the Board improperly required a suicide plan or attempt in order to rate the Veteran at a higher disability rating. Risk of self-harm or the persistent danger of hurting oneself is contemplated by the 100% rating. Because the Board erroneously required a higher level of disability than required by the 70% rating criteria, the Court vacated and remanded the Board’s decision for readjudication.