S.S. enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in 1983, and was honorably discharged in 1987. During her service, S.S. was sexually assaulted by her superior in the Army, who threatened her with a loss of rank if she reported the assault. After her discharge, S.S. worked at a variety of jobs, the last of which was driving taxis. As her PTSD symptoms grew worse, she experienced daily bouts of road rage and frequently had verbal altercations with customers and supervisors. The severity of her PTSD caused her to stop working in 2002.
Our firm obtained S.S.’s private medical treatment records for her PTSD. In our Notice of Disagreement (NOD), we explained that in denying her claim for a greater than 50% disability rating for her PTSD, the VA had claimed to rely on the opinion of an examining C&P psychologist. We pointed out that in doing so, the VA ignored that examining psychologist’s own findings in which he himself had identified PTSD symptoms S.S. had that satisfied criteria for a 70 percent rating. We also referred S.S. to an examining psychologist with expertise in treating veterans with PTSD and obtained a favorable medical opinion from him supporting her claim. Our firm also obtained and submitted to the VA S.S.’s sworn declaration showing that the effects of her PTSD on her social and occupational functioning satisfied the criteria for a 70 percent disability rating.
In a September 2017 rating decision, the VA granted S.S. a 70 percent rating for her PTSD and a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU rating) with a 2013 effective date, resulting in an award of more than $107,000 in past-due benefits and current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.