Attorney Jason Pearson at Disability Law Group recently helped a veteran client receive a 100% rating dating back more than a decade. His client served in both the Air Force and the Army, and he developed significant hearing loss and tinnitus with vertigo in service, resulting in a diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease. Ultimately, he was separated from service for the condition and granted service connection at 30% in 2005. However, his symptoms gradually became much worse.
As a result, in November 2010, the veteran filed for an increase of his Meniere’s Disease, requesting 100% evaluation. With his claim, he submitted statements from family and friends confirming hearing loss and with attacks of vertigo and staggering more than once a week (required for a 100% rating for the condition). VA sent the veteran to a medical exam where the examiner failed to conduct the proper testing and ignored statements made by the veteran regarding his symptoms. Based on the inadequate examination, VA denied the veteran’s request for an increase. Evidence in the file, which included statements from relatives that they have witnessed the symptoms which qualify for 100%, and the veteran’s VAMC medical records showing he was complaining of symptoms that qualify him for 100%, were ignored.
The veteran appealed VA’s denial. In fact, he spent the next several years dealing with the VA appellate process. He eventually appealed VA’s denials to the Board of Veteran’s Appeals (BVA) in January 2016, which remanded the case in 2018, telling VA to obtain a new examination. VA obtained a new examination in July 2019 which resulted in VA granting the veteran 100% for Meniere’s Disease in a September 2019 Rating Decision. However, VA only granted the increase back to the July 2019 C&P examination, claiming this is when VA had the evidence of the veteran meets the criteria for 100%.
The veteran came to our firm in November 2021, well past the one-year date for a traditional appeal. He had spent more than two years trying to get help with an earlier effective date. Offices were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finding representation was difficult during that time. Before he found our office, the one-year deadline for appeal had passed. He kept reaching out for help but was told time and again that because the decision was more than one year old, there was nothing he could do.
That changed when he contacted Disability Law Group. Because our attorneys keep apprised of the latest developments in VA law, we knew VA provided extensions for late appeals due to the COVID-19 pandemic and this case qualified. So we took his case! We filed a Higher Level Review and explained that the appeal was being filed late due to the pandemic. VA followed up with a letter stating that our appeal was rejected because it was filed more than one year after the last decision. Undeterred, our attorneys reminded VA of its own rules and once again requested that the appeal be opened.
Recognizing that we were correct, VA finally scheduled the Informal Conference for the Higher Level Review. Because our attorneys spend a great deal of time going through each page of a client’s VA file, the attorney working on the veteran’s file knew each piece of evidence in the file and when it was received. During the informal conference, our attorney pointed out each piece of evidence and why it required VA to provide an earlier effective date for a 100% rating. A few weeks later, VA issued a new decision which granted a rating for 100% for Meniere’s Disease effective November 2010. We are all very glad that the veteran did not give up.
The lawyers at Disability Law Group understand how complicated this area of law can be. If you, or someone you know, suffers from mental health issues due to VA care or time in the service, contact Disability Law Group today for your free consultation. Our attorneys and staff specialize strictly in disability benefits, and we will fight to help you win every benefit you deserve. Whether you were already denied or if you would like advice from the very start, contact us today and speak with one of our attorneys to understand your rights and get the representation that you need.