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Board erred in denial for a higher rating for PTSD, remanded entitlement to TDIU

Board erred in denial for a higher rating for PTSD, remanded entitlement to TDIU

Summary of the Case

The Veteran served honorably on active duty in the United States Army from 1964 to 1966, and then served in the Army reserve from 1972 to 2001. He served as a platoon leader in Vietnam, where he saw many of his soldiers die. After service, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  and VA awarded him service connection. He also received disability benefits for a left elbow disability, tinnitus, and hearing loss. VA initially awarded the Veteran a 30% disability rating for his PTSD, which he disagreed with.

Due to his PTSD, the Veteran suffered from symptoms of anger and impaired impulse control, feelings of guilty, and difficulty concentrating. A VA examiner believed it would be very hard for him to get a job due to his PTSD symptoms. Another examiner stated that his PTSD made it difficult to establish and maintain relationships with others.

VA eventually awarded a higher rating of 70% but no higher. It concluded that the Veteran had total occupational impairment but not total social impairment to warrant a 100% rating.

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals also found that there was evidence to raise the Veteran’s potential entitlement to a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). But it found that it needed more evidence before it could make a decision, so it remanded the issue of entitlement to TDIU and asked the Regional Office to obtain another VA examination.

 

CCK appeals to Court

With CCK’s help, the Veteran appealed the Board decision to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

CCK argued that the Board did not have enough information when it denied a 100% rating for PTSD. Specifically, it was unclear how the Board could concede that it needed another VA examination to determine the Veteran’s level of severity for TDIU purposes but find that it had enough evidence to deny a higher rating for PTSD.

 

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

The Court agreed that both determinations for a schedular rating for PTSD and for TDIU require a complete record on the issues of occupational impairment. It further found that the development VA takes in obtaining an examination for TDIU may have a significant impact on the increased rating claim for PTSD.

The Court vacated the Board’s decision and remanded the Veteran’s claim for further adjudication.

Category: Court Wins

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