Mr. RT hired our firm to represent him in 2013. He was facing a Board of Veterans’ Appeals hearing with his VSO but wanted the help of an attorney. Mr. RT was only receiving a 10% rating for anxiety disorder, but was suffering from severe PTSD, COPD, hearing loss and tinnitus. I appeared at the BVA hearing and we obtained a remand for the anxiety/PTSD rating, COPD, hearing loss and tinnitus. A copy of the BVA decision is here. Before the remand was completed by the Denver VA Regional Office, we submitted VA Form 21-8940 with our standard argument to the VA that TDIU is not a claim but rather included in any existing appeal to ensure that the veteran receives the most money possible after waiting over three years for a decision.
Submitting TDU Form After BVA Remand to Ensure 100% Rating
Submitting the TDIU Form and our argument worked. We won TDIU, service connection for PTSD with a 70% rating, service connection for tinnitus and hearing loss, but lost service-connection for COPD because VA determined that his COPD was caused by smoking. Mr. RT was extremely happy since his monthly payment was increased by several thousand dollars per month, and he got a large retroactive award, but, he was still concerned about providing for his wife after he died.
Appeal Continues for COPD After 70% PTSD Increase and TDIU Grant
If a veteran dies due to a service-connected disability or receives a 100% TDIU rating for 10 years or more, the surviving spouse is entitled to a monthly DIC payment. Mr. RT wondered what would happen if he died before he received 10 years of total disability benefits, since it was unlikely that he would die from his service-connected PTSD or hearing-loss, I explained that we still had COPD on appeal and that if we could prove to VA that his COPD was secondary to PTSD then not only would he receive more retroactive money now, but his wife would be entitled to DIC payments since COPD will likely be a contributory cause of death.
Work With Your Attorney to Prove PTSD Leads to Smoking and Caused COPD
Mr. RT started smoking in service shortly after going into combat. After service he kept smoking because it alleviated his anxiety, depression and other symptoms of PTSD. Because VA refuses to pay veterans for smoking related claims we had to show that his smoking, which led to COPD, was actually secondary to PTSD. We did this by appearing at the BVA hearing and having Mr. RT explain to the Veteran’s Law Judge how and why he started smoking, and that it was his only relief while suffering from untreated PTSD. We backed this up with buddy statements from his wife and family. Finally, we submitted a private psychiatrist opinion that supported that smoking and COPD were secondary to PTSD. It worked; the BVA granted service connection for COPD as secondary to PTSD. Read the Board of Veterans Appeals decision and you can see for yourself the facts and evidence the judge found convincing and why he granted the claim. Mr. RT’s wife will likely get DIC benefits when he passes away. This was the second win of this type of case for our firm, you can read about the other one here.
You Can Win COPD and Other Smoking Related Diseases If You get the Right Help
Service connecting COPD claims as secondary to PTSD is difficult, even more difficult if you’re a surviving spouse trying to get DIC. Proving these claims requires careful submission of the proper veteran statements, buddy statements and attending Board hearings. Private medical opinions are crucial, but if they lack proper VA terminology and standards, you risk another denial. Our firm will work with your doctors or we can direct you to one of ours. If you are interested in our firm, give us a call or email. We offer a free consultation and analysis of your appeal. We only get paid, if you get paid.