The Board of Veterans’ Appeals recently granted an appeal for clear and unmistakable error filed by Bosley & Bratch on behalf of a veteran for service connection for schizophrenia.
With respect to the appeal, the veteran enlisted in the early 1980s. The enlistment exam described a clean bill of health. About one year later, the service medically discharged the veteran because of severe schizophrenia. Almost immediately, the veteran filed for compensation benefits. After trying hard to serve, the veteran left the service and experienced many personal struggles.
The VA denied the claim for schizophrenia arguing the illness pre-existed the veteran’s enlistment. The VA told the veteran there were schizophrenia symptoms before the veteran enlisted. Furthermore, the VA also denied the claim arguing the severity of the illness did not increase during the veteran’s enlistment. The VA refused to acknowledge the disability grew worse, and the VA failed to acknowledge it started while the veteran was serving.
The veteran spent over 30 years filing VA claims and appeals in an effort to convince the VA the mental illness either started or grew worse during his enlistment. For over 30 years, the VA rejected the veteran’s claims. Eventually, the veteran sought our help, and we took the case.
For over 5 years we fought the VA until the case reached the Board of Veterans Appeals. The Board found two important things. First, the veteran did not manifest severe symptoms of schizophrenia when the veteran enlisted. Meaning, the service accepted the veteran after having examined the veteran for mental soundness. The veteran was found to be sound. Secondly, by the time the veteran was medically discharged, the veteran had severe symptoms of schizophrenia. Therefore, the veteran was sound when entering the service, but the veteran was unsound when leaving. So, even if the schizophrenia pre-existed the veteran’s enlistment, no reasonable person would deny the schizophrenia worsened.
The evidence showed the VA was clearly wrong in denying the claim for over 30 years. As a result, the VA now owes the veteran compensation benefits that should have been paid for decades. The lesson we can all learn from this veteran is tenacity and dogged perseverance pays off when we know the VA has made a mistake.
Legal Assistance for Veterans’ Claim Appeals
If you believe a clear and unmistakable error lead to a veteran’s claim denial and need to file an appeal, we are here to help. Contact our veterans disability attorneys or complete our free online case evaluation form.