BVA1316146: Causal Nexus / Link

Citation Nr: 1316146 Decision Date: 05/16/13 Archive Date: 05/29/13 DOCKET NO. 07-28 985

FINDINGS OF FACT …

5. The Veteran did not have a valid diagnosis of PTSD or have a psychiatric disorder that was causally or etiologically related to his military service.

CONCLUSIONS OF LAW …

2. The criteria for entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD, for accrued benefit purposes are not met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 5121 (West 2002 & Supp. 2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.303, 3.1000 (2012).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS …

During the pendency of his claim, the Veteran continued to have a diagnosis of depression. However, the Board finds that the preponderance of the evidence does not show a relationship between depression and service. The only evidence indicating a nexus between service and acquired psychiatric disorders are his statements. However, as noted above, the Veteran’s statements regarding the onset and treatment of his acquired psychiatric disorders are inconsistent. Specifically, he said his condition had its onset prior to service, during his first physical for basic training, upon leaving Vietnam, and after service in the 1970s. While laypersons are generally competent to report symptoms of disorders, in this case, the Board finds that the Veteran’s recollections of his medical history are not consistent and therefore, not credible.

The Board has considered the medical evidence, but finds that it also fails to indicate a relationship between service and any psychiatric disorders. At most, VA examiners opined that acquired psychiatric disorders other than PTSD had their onset prior to service. The opinions, which are not supported by rationale, appear to be based on the Veteran’s statements alleging pre-service onset of his disorders. However, because the Board finds that the Veteran’s statements regarding his medical history are not credible, the Board, in turn, finds that the VA examiners’ opinions are not credible or persuasive and are entitled to no probative value as they are based on the Veteran’s reported history.

Generally, the Board would remand this case to obtain an adequate VA examiner’s opinion; however, because this claim is solely for the purpose of accrued benefits, the Board is not permitted to undertake development subsequent to the Veteran’s death. Therefore, based on the evidence of record at the time of the Veteran’s death, the Board finds that the preponderance of the evidence weighs against a finding of service connection for a psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD, for accrued benefits purposes. The benefit of the doubt doctrine is not for application. See Gilbert, 1 Vet. App. at 55. The appeal is denied.

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