Air Force Veteran Wins TDIU Rating for Migraines, PTSD, and Orthopedic Conditions

H.M. hired Friedman Disability in March 2016 for legal representation after the VA denied his claim for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU) for his service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), migraines, and orthopedic issues. H.M. enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1995, serving for a decade before being honorably discharged in 2015. After hearing H.M.’s story, our firm compiled the medical evidence of record from the VA medical system and his treating physicians.

After analyzing H. M.’s claims file, we found that although the VA had granted him a combined rating of 90 percent with a 2015 effective date, the VA had erred by refusing to grant him a schedular rating of greater than 50 percent for his PTSD and a rating of more than zero percent (noncompensable) for his daily, debilitating migraines. Our firm then filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) seeking the benefits to which H.M. was entitled.

In our NOD, we showed that the VA had overlooked findings from its own physicians who found that H.M.’s PTSD satisfied several criteria for a 70 percent rating, including an inability to adapt to stressful situations, difficulty establishing effective relationships with others, impaired impulse control, and unprovoked irritability. Our NOD also proved that the VA had ignored the findings of H.M.’s treating physicians regarding the severity and frequency of his migraines, which warranted at least a 50 percent schedular rating. Our firm also obtained a vocational expert opinion demonstrating that H.M. could not maintain regular attendance at any gainful occupation, if one accepted as true the VA’s own findings regarding the severity of his service-connected disabilities.

In May of 2017, based on the vocational expert’s opinion and the analysis in our NODs, the VA issued a favorable rating decision that increased the schedular rating for H.M.’s PTSD to 70 percent and granted him a TDIU rating with a 2015 effective date. This led to an award of more than $41,000 dollars in past-due benefits, and current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.