Air Force Veteran Wins 100 Percent Combined Rating for Depression, IBS, Orthopedic Conditions

E.J. sought representation from Friedman Disability in September 2016 after the VA refused to grant him a combined rating of greater than 90 percent for his Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), tension headaches, and a variety of orthopedic conditions including a lateral collateral ligament sprain in his left ankle, cubital tunnel syndrome, and thoracolumbar strain.

E.J. enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan, serving for 6 years before being honorably discharged in 2015. During his service, he suffered from digestive issues that would later be diagnosed as IBS, and suffered pain in his feet from his bilateral pes planus that required him to wear customized orthotics.

In its initial rating decision, the VA erroneously gave E.J. zero percent (noncompensable) ratings for his irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bilateral pes planus, in addition to only granting E.J.’s depression and anxiety a 50 percent rating.

After obtaining E.J.’s complete VA claims file and the medical evidence of record, our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement and then a formal appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) to address these issues. To support our appeal, our firm obtained sworn declarations from the veteran and his mother testifying to the emergence of E.J.’s disabilities during service and the changes in his mental health during his service and following his discharge.

On the basis of these declarations and the medical evidence Friedman Disability obtained and submitted to the BVA, in July of 2018 the BVA increased the schedular rating for E.J.’s MDD to 70 percent, bilateral pes planus to 10 percent, and IBS to 30 percent. This resulted in a combined rating of 100 percent with a 2015 effective date, yielding an award of more than $66,000 in past-due benefits in addition to current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.