The law firm of Hill and Ponton approached Attig | Steel after the BVA judge denied their veteran a higher 70 percent PTSD rating. They had put a lot of work and energy into helping a veteran, and the BVA decision seemed to gloss over their thorough presentation of PTSD symptomatology.
This case had 2 major issues - both of which were fixed by Attig | Steel on appeal to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims:
1) the BVA did not consider a 70 percent PTSD rating (or higher) for this veteran's service connected PTSD, and,
2) the BVA decision rating the veteran's vertigo under a rating code that did not maximize the veteran's disability compensation.
First, the BVA did not consider the 70 percent PTSD rating criteria, such as the veteran's suicidal ideation or auditory hallucinations. (While a 70 percent PTSD rating does not require suicidal ideation, the BVA errs when it does not consider, holistically, the symptoms of a veteran's PTSD).
In granting a 30 percent PTSD rating for one part of a rating period and a 50 percent PTSD rating for another part, the BVA also failed to consider that the veteran's PTSD medication caused him to sleep 15-16 hours at a time and required he seek a reduced work schedule.
The BVA did not consider (people calling his name and warning him) and “seeing visions in the past”, and that other PTSD symptoms were more severe than assessed in the BVA decision:
Second, the BVA erred when it rated the veteran's unlisted vertigo under a Diagnostic Code (DC) 6204, which is used to evaluate peripheral vestibular disorders. Because the condition more closely approximated Meniere's Syndrome, the BVA erred when it failed to consider a higher rating under the provisions of DC 6205 (Meniere’s syndrome). Instead, the BVA found DC 6205 did not apply because Appellant was not diagnosed with Meniere’s syndrome: a classic BVA misunderstanding of the concept of "rating by analogy".
Attig | Steel coordinated with the law firm of Hill & Ponton to handle the veteran's remand to the BVA.
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Link to the BVA Decision on CAVC Website.
Link to the Joint Motion to Remand the CAVC Website.
OGC Attorney: Michael G. Imber
Veteran Representation at CAVC: Chris Attig (link to bio)
Board of Veterans Appeals Veterans Law Judge:Matthew W. Blackwelder
Regional Office: St. Petersburg, Florida VARO
Vets’ Rep at BVA: Sara K. Hill (link to bio)
Date of BVA Decision: February 23, 2017
Date of CAVC Judgment on Remand: December 21, 2017