The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit says that a veteran must demonstrate the particular symptoms, or symptoms similar to, the symptoms listed in the rating schedule and with similar severity, frequency, and duration, in order to obtain a rating for a disability. It is not enough to simply present evidence that the veteran suffers from any requisite occupational and social impairment which might be included in the pertinent rating schedule.
A Vietnam veteran suffering from service-connected PTSD filed a claim, seeking a 70% disability rating. The VA denied his claim for a 70% rating and assigned him a rating of 50% instead. In giving the veteran this lower rating, the VA cited the fact that the veteran did not present the particular symptoms, or even similar symptoms, listed for the 70% rating. The applicable rating schedule lists the following criteria for 70%:
Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.
The applicable rating schedule lists the follow criteria for 50%:
Occupational and social impairment with reduced reliability and productivity due to such symptoms as: flattened affect; circumstantial, circumlocutory, or stereotyped speech; panic attacks more than once a week; difficulty in understanding complex commands; impairment of short- and long-term memory (e.g., retention of only highly learned material, forgetting to complete tasks); impaired judgment; impaired abstract thinking; disturbances of motivation and mood; difficulty in establishing and maintaining effective work and social relationships.