D.K. hired Friedman Disability in August of 2015 after the VA denied his claim for service connection for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) because the VA had not been able to verify his claimed in-service stressors. D.K. enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1965 and served in Vietnam, Thailand, and elsewhere before being honorably discharged in 1969. During D.K.’s service in Southeast Asia, his plane came close to being shot down several times, and the flashbacks and nightmares associated with these events contributed to D.K.’s debilitating PTSD. After D.K.’s discharge, in the late 1970s a house fire destroyed all of his service records and memorabilia, which had made his in-service stressors more difficult to prove.
To support D.K.’s claim, Friedman Disability obtained his complete VA and private medical records in addition to his VA disability claims file and Air Force service records. The medical evidence of record indicated that the VA’s own examining psychiatrist, who had diagnosed D.K. with PTSD, expressly attributed his diagnosis to the in-service stressors D.K. faced in Vietnam. Furthermore, D.K.’s service records showed that he had flown on several combat missions, and had been awarded the Vietnam Service Medal. To support this evidence, our firm also obtained sworn declarations from other airmen who had served with D.K. describing the missions they had flown together.
With the evidence of record in place, our firm filed a Notice of Disagreement (NOD) on the veteran’s behalf showing that D.K.’s PTSD was caused by proven in-service stressors. In June of 2017, the VA issued a new rating decision granting D.K. service connection for PTSD rated as 70 percent disabling with a 2014 effective date, resulting in an award of more than $47,000 in past-due benefits. Our firm filed another NOD on the client’s behalf showing that he was also entitled to a total disability rating based on individual unemployability, which the VA granted in April of 2018 with a 2014 effective date. This resulted in an additional award of more than $56,000 in past-due benefits as well as continuing current disability paid at the 100 percent rate.