BVA1343153: Causal Nexus / Link

Citation Nr: 1343153 Decision Date: 12/27/13 Archive Date: 01/07/14 DOCKET NO. 08-11 000

FINDINGS OF FACT …

2. A psychiatric disorder was not “noted” at service entrance.

3. The presumption of soundness does not apply as it is not shown that the Veteran’s PTSD manifested during her service.

4. The Veteran is currently diagnosed with PTSD, major depressive disorder, gender identity disorder, and personality disorder.

5. In-service stressors, sufficient to support a diagnosis of PTSD, have been verified.

6. The Veteran’s currently diagnosed PTSD, major depressive disorder, gender identity disorder, and personality disorder did not begin during her military service, and are not otherwise related to service, to include as a result of her verified in-service stressor; the evidence similarly fails to establish that an Axis I acquired psychiatric disability was aggravated during her military service.

CONCLUSION OF LAW

The criteria for service connection for an acquired psychiatric disorder, to include PTSD, major depressive disorder, gender identity disorder, and personality disorder, have not been met. 38 U.S.C.A. §§ 1110, 1111, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107 (West 2002); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.159, 3.303, 3.304 (2013).

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION …

However, the question still remains whether the Veteran’s currently diagnosed PTSD is the result of an in-service stressor.

Weighing against the Veteran’s claim are service treatment records which are absent for any diagnosis for PTSD. …

… These pieces of evidence weigh heavily against a finding that the Veteran’s later diagnosed PTSD was incurred in or is otherwise related to her military service.

Further, in the June 2013 VA examination report, the examiner found that while the Veteran did have a repeated pattern of misconduct during service, it was a result of her personality disorder, and not PTSD. The Board finds the June 2013 VA medical opinion to be highly probative as the examiner conducted an in-depth review of the claims file, and provided a detailed rationale for all opinions rendered. See Prejean, 13 Vet. App. at 448-9. For these reasons, the Board finds that PTSD was not incurred in service and was not evidenced by the numerous outbursts and problems in service.

Also weighing against a finding of a link between the currently diagnosed PTSD and the in-service stressor events are the post-service treatment records. …

The Board has considered this argument, and concurs that an in-service stressor need not be the predominant (that is bulk or majority) cause of PTSD. …

The Board has also considered the Veteran’s statements purporting to relate her currently diagnosed PTSD to her verified in-service stressor event. Upon review of the evidence of record, the Board finds that the Veteran’s statements are not credible as they are inconsistent with, and outweighed by, other lay and medical evidence of record. Credibility can be generally evaluated by a showing of interest, bias or inconsistent statements; and the demeanor of the witness, facial plausibility of the testimony, and the consistency of the witness testimony are also factors that may be considered. Caluza v. Brown, 7 Vet. App. 498, 510-511 (1995). The Board emphasizes that the Court has recognized that personal interest to receive benefits may affect the credibility of the evidence. Cartright v. Derwinski, 2 Vet. App. 24, 25 (1991).

In this regard, the Board notes that the Veteran has made numerous inconsistent and contradictory statements regarding the nature, extent and severity of her psychiatric symptoms during the pendency of this appeal, revising her statements in an attempt to associate her current psychiatric problems to her time in service. …

… The fact that the Veteran would recognize that she had PTSD or at least some symptoms of PTSD in 2002, which she believed was related to service, but did not report any such symptoms as being related to service until some five years later – and more than two years after she initially sought psychiatric treatment – is not believable or credible.

For the reasons discussed above, the Board finds that the Veteran’s alleged symptoms regarding her service experiences are self-serving and are not credible. Moreover, after taking into account the Veteran’s reported history of symptomatology, the June 2013 VA examiner offered a probative medical opinion that the Veteran’s PTSD was due to her childhood abuse and death of her fiancée. Additionally, while the Veteran was treated by several other psychiatrists over the years, most of those reports indicate that her current psychiatric problems were related to her childhood abuse. The evidence does not demonstrate that any treating healthcare provider suggested that the Veteran’s current PTSD was incurred in or caused by her experiences in service.

Based on the evidence of record, both lay and medical, the Board finds that the weight of the evidence is against a finding of relationship between the Veteran’s currently diagnosed PTSD and her corroborated in-service stressor events. Accordingly, the Board finds that a preponderance of the evidence is against the Veteran’s claim for service connection for PTSD, and the claim must be denied. Because the preponderance of the evidence is against the claim, the benefit of the doubt doctrine is not for application. See 38 U.S.C.A. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 3.102.

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