S.C. hired Friedman Disability in September of 2015 after the VA denied him a schedular rating of greater than 70 percent for his service-connected PTSD and failed to consider his informal claim for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU rating). S.C. enlisted in the United States Army in 2005 and served for six years in Aghanistan and elsewhere until being honorably discharged in 2011. Following his discharge, S.C. had not maintained employment to his severe PTSD symptoms, but by denying his TDIU claim the VA had erroneously asserted that S.C. was still able to follow a substantially gainful occupation (SGO) despite not providing examples of a job someone with his symptoms could perform.
To help S.C. win the benefits to which he was lawfully entitled, Friedman Disability obtained his complete VA and private medical records in addition to his VA claims file in order to identify the favorable evidence of record that the VA had overlooked or improperly dismissed without cause. Our firm’s assessment of S.C.’s claim found that the VA knew or should have known that he had been unable to work since his 2011 discharge. In addition, the VA’s own examining psychologist had identified a number of the PTSD symptoms that prevented S.C. from working while performing his competency and pension (C&P) exam, including poor hygiene, impaired impulse control, difficulty adapting to stressful circumstances, and an inability to establish and maintain effective relationships, ultimately declaring him unable to “manage [his] personal affairs to include disbursement of [his] VA funds.” Clearly, a person with these debilitating symptoms would be unable to follow an SGO.
With this favorable evidence in place, our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on the client’s behalf, explaining how the VA had failed to properly evaluate S.C.’s informal TDIU claim. In July of 2017, the VA issued a new rating decision granting S.C. a TDIU rating with a 2014 effective date. This resulted in an award of more than $62,000 in past-due benefits in addition to continuing current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.