Veteran is severely disabled due to PTSD and a psychotic disorder.
Result: 100 percent service connection awarded with back pay in excess of $375,000
The veteran served on active duty in the Marine Corps in the early 1970s–during the Vietnam War. He had TDY in Vietnam. Unfortunately, his DD-214 did not reflect his time in Vietnam. Prior to his discharge the veteran began experiencing some psychiatric symptoms, but these complaints were not documented anywhere in his service medical records. Within a year of his discharge from the Marine Corps the veteran found himself hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of a private hospital. He was initially diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The records from the private hospitalization were no longer available.
By the mid 1970s the veteran could no longer work. He survived as best he could but it was not easy. Somebody finally suggested that he go to VA and seek benefits. He went to VA. Not surprisingly, the VA denied him. By 1989 the VA had already denied the veteran twice. He had begun to give up hope, and so he waited another 10 years before filing again for a psychiatric disability. But the VA denied him again. He appealed to the Board and was denied. This process of repeated denials and appeals continued for almost another 10 years.
Finally, the veteran retained our law firm to represent him in his appeal. We successfully appealed his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim. We were able to obtain a remand of his claim. When the case went back to the Board we began to acquire the evidence we needed to win his claim. We had his matter reviewed by a physician who gave the opinion that the veteran’s psychiatric condition was due to his service in Vietnam.
The Board, however, was not interested in granting the claim so easily. The Board remanded the case back to the regional office for another VA examination. Normally, the Board will remand for another VA exam if it is unwilling to accept a favorable report from a private doctor. The VA examiner was sufficiently persuaded by our private doctor that she wrote a report that was somewhat helpful–although not entirely favorable. Accordingly, we obtained another expert evaluation from a former VA psychologist. Our second expert gave the opinion that the military experiences in Vietnam aggravated a pre-existing condition.
But the VA continued the denial of the claim. So we filed additional argument to the point that the VA sent the veteran for yet another exam. We suspected that VA was trying to develop evidence to support another denial. We filed argument against this tactic. We also discovered that VA was going to be sending the veteran to QTC, which is a private medical examination company. The VA usually uses QTC when they want to obtain evidence against a claim. Nevertheless, we found the identity of the doctor at QTC and we sent her all the private expert reports and provided a detailed explanation as to why service connection was appropriate. Because of our proactive efforts, we were able to influence the QTC examiner to write a favorable opinion.
As a result, the VA issued a rating decision awarding 100 percent service connection and more than 13 years back pay, which amounted to more than $375,000. The veteran had not worked since the mid 1970s and this award represented more money than he had ever seen in his entire life.