J.W. hired Friedman Disability to represent him in May 2016 after the VA denied him a schedular disability rating of greater than 50 percent for his persistent depressive disorder and refused to award him a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU), in spite of the severe impact his depression had on his ability to follow a substantially gainful occupation (SGO).
J.W. enlisted in the United States Army in 2000 but was honorably discharged several months later as a result of his severe depression. After his discharge, J.W. lost 26 different jobs, none of which lasted more than a few months. When J.W. came to our firm for help with his appeal, we obtained his VA and private medical records in addition to his employment history. Our firm also obtained a report from a vocational expert clearly explaining why an individual with J.W.’s symptoms cannot follow a substantially gainful occupation.
Based on this evidence, our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) demonstrating that many of J.W.’s depression symptoms satisfied important criteria for a 70 percent or higher schedular rating, including an inability to establish and maintain effective relationships, difficulty adapting to stressful circumstances, and suicidal ideation. Our NOD also highlighted J.W.’s inability to maintain a substantially gainful occupation and pressed the VA to reconsider the veteran for a TDIU rating. A subsequent VA rating decision in 2016 granted J.W. a 70 percent schedular rating for his depression with a 2015 effective date, but deferred adjudicating the TDIU claim citing questions about his employment history. This resulted in an award of more than $24,000 in past-due benefits.
In February 2018, after our firm provided the necessary clarifications about J.W.’s employment history, the VA Regional Office granted him a TDIU rating with a 2015 effective date, resulting in more than $52,000 in additional past-due benefits and current disability paid at the 100 percent rate. In 2018 Friedman Disability also helped J.W. add his new spouse as a dependent, increasing his monthly benefit payment to more than $3,200.