Navy Veteran Wins TDIU Rating, 5 Years of Past-Due Benefits for Dercum’s Disease

T.E. hired Friedman Disability in March of 2010 after the VA denied his claim for a schedular rating of greater than 30 percent for the numerous painful lipomas and residual scars caused by his Dercum’s disease, and failed to consider him for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU). T.E. enlisted in the United States Navy in 1987 and served for five years before being honorably discharged in 1992.

When T.E. came to Friedman Disability for help, our firm’s first step was to obtain his complete VA and private medical records as well as his VA claims file in order to assess what favorable medical evidence the VA had overlooked. Our firm’s investigation discovered that the VA’s own examining physicians had found that the lipomas covered 80 percent of T.E.’s body, and the pain they caused rendered T.E. unable to lift more than five pounds or to stand, sit, or walk for extended periods of time, functions necessary for performing any kind of work. Furthermore, in assigning a schedular rating for T.E.’s lipomas, the VA had erroneously used “scars” as an analogous condition rather than a more accurate approximation such as dermatitis or psoriasis. To confirm the debilitating impact of T.E.’s condition, our firm also obtained a sworn declaration from the veteran describing how Dercum’s Disease impacted his day-to-day functioning.

On the basis of these facts, our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on the client’s behalf showing that his Dercum’s disease warranted a higher schedular rating and that T.E. was entitled to a TDIU rating. Robert A. Friedman also represented the veteran at an in-person hearing with a Decision Review Officer (DRO) at the Seattle VA Regional Office. In March of 2016, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) granted T.E. a TDIU rating with a 2011 effective date, resulting in an award of five years of past-due benefits totaling more than $100,000, in addition to continuing current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.