For some Veterans who have been denied disability benefits, the key to appealing the decision may rely upon proving that they received an inadequate examination. One component of an adequate examination is that the examiner must be reasonably able to make the proper determination.
When submitting a claim for VA disability compensation, a veteran needs to have a current disability or symptoms of a current disability, as well as an in-service event or injury. To obtain a disability rating for PTSD, a veteran also needs to have experienced an in-service stressor. In some cases, a veteran can claim a current condition as secondary to a service-connected condition; even though the current condition may have started after service, it is directly linked to the service injury. If a veteran has supplied sufficient supporting information, the VA has a duty to assist by providing the veteran with a medical examination from a competent VA medical examiner.
There have been many instances where the VA has had to offer new examinations because the first examiner did not have the required expertise. Most recently, the VA had to offer a number of veterans new TBI examinations because the examiner did not have the training to conduct an appropriate examination. The VA does not always provide the examiner’s qualification, and because an examiner is presumed competent, it can be difficult to argue that the VA medical examiner did not have the appropriate qualifications to make a determination.
If you can, ask your examiner what his or her specialty is. At a minimum, write down their name so you can research his or her specialty and practice area later. While there are some examinations that a Physician’s Assistant is competent to perform, other examinations may require a specialized practice field. Failure to provide an examination with such an examiner may cause the examination to be inadequate on its face. In addition, if the VA medical examiner does not appear to know about or understand your condition, that would provide potential grounds for future appeals.
Berry Law Firm is comprised of attorneys fighting for veterans’ benefits. Our founder, three-tour Vietnam veteran John Stevens Berry Sr., began helping fellow veterans suffering from PTSD upon his return to the country. Today, we work with veterans to successfully appeal VA disability claim denials. If you believe you haven’t received the benefits you deserve, contact us today.
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