Navy Veteran Wins TDIU Rating for PTSD After Witnessing Murder

W.J. hired Friedman Disability in September 2014 following a rating decision by the VA that denied him a greater than 70 percent schedular disability rating for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU).

W.J. enlisted in the United States Navy in 1991 and was honorably discharged in 1993. While serving on the USS Belleau Wood, W.J. witnessed firsthand the murder of one of his shipmates by two assailants, later identified as other service members. W.J. provided key testimony that led to the conviction of the murderers, but suffered severe PTSD as a result of witnessing this crime.

After leaving the Navy, W.J. had worked a variety of jobs as an English teacher and information technology contractor, but left or was dismissed from each of these positions within a few months because his PTSD-related anger and irritability resulted in his inability to relate effectively to his coworkers and supervisors.

After 2014, W.J.’s symptoms caused him both to stop working and to have significant difficulty relating appropriately to, and even maintaining his composure around, his wife and son. To minimize his interpersonal difficulties and his potential danger to others, W.J. remained at home by himself most of his waking hours.

To prove W.J.’s entitlement to a TDIU rating, our firm obtained a detailed sworn declaration from the veteran, evidence regarding his employment history, and his VA medical records. Our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) demonstrating that the VA’s own examining psychologists had found that W.J. suffered from impaired impulse control, unprovoked irritability with periods of violence, and difficulty establishing and maintaining effective relationships with others, all of which prevented him from securing and following a substantially gainful occupation (SGO). Thanks to these efforts, in February 2017 the VA granted W.J. a TDIU rating with a 2014 effective date, resulting in an award of more than $48,000 in past-due benefits and current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.