Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, organic brain syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Result: Service connection granted and back pay awarded in excess of $300,000.
The veteran worked with lead and other toxic chemicals during service. He began to experience some seizures and other difficulties during service, but the medical corps could not find anything wrong with him. His separation exam was “normal.” About 20 years after service he developed severe chemical sensitivity to the point that he could not be around any synthetic substances. He became virtually confined to his home. All synthetic items had to be removed from his home.
He began filing for benefits and VA denied him repeatedly. The VA rejected the idea that anything was wrong with him. They believed it was all “in his head” and there was no connection to service. In particular, the VA could not accept a 20 year gap between discharge from service and when the symptoms began. The veteran appealed his denials through the regional office and several times to the Board. The matter was remanded several times and he was given multiple VA compensation and pension exams. All the VA examiners consistently found ways to say his injuries either did not exist or that there was no way they could be connected to service.
After his last Board denial, the veteran retained our law firm to represent him on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. We successfully argued that the Board failed to expand the scope of his claim to include other theories or disabilities that were suggested by the evidence. We got the case overturned on appeal and remanded back to the BVA.
Due to the complexity of the medical issues, we retained one of the world’s leading experts in neuropsychiatry and organic brain issues. This expert was one of only 9 experts in the world with his level of qualifications. We submitted over 100 pages of additional medical expert materials, establishing that there were scientific studies and laboratory test results that supported a delay in the onset of symptoms associated with chemical exposure. The Board found yet another reason, however, to remand the case back to the regional office.
Once the case was back at the regional office, we obtained additional medical expert opinions from the veteran’s treating physician, and submitted more argument to support the claim. We also began aggressively pushing VA to make a decision on the claim. Finally, after 17 years of appeals, the regional office granted service connection and awarded 100 percent disability with a back pay award that exceeded $3000,000.