Citation Nr: 18131263
Decision Date: 08/31/18	Archive Date: 08/31/18

DOCKET NO. 14-37 964
DATE:	August 31, 2018
ORDER
Restoration of competency status for VA benefits purposes is granted.
FINDING OF FACT
The evidence is at least in equipoise as to whether the Veteran lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs, including the disbursement of funds, without limitation.
CONCLUSION OF LAW
The Veteran is competent to handle disbursement of funds for VA purposes.  38 U.S.C. § 501; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.353.
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Air Force from March 1996 to January 1998.
This matter comes before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal from a September 2014 rating decision from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO).
Competency
The Board finds the Veteran competent to manage his own financial affairs, including the disbursement of funds, without limitation.  A mentally incompetent person is one who because of injury or disease lacks the mental capacity to contract or to manage his or her own affairs, including disbursement of funds without limitation.  38 C.F.R. § 3.353(a).  Where reasonable doubt arises regarding a beneficiary’s mental capacity to contract or to manage his or her own affairs, including the disbursement of funds without limitation, such doubt will be resolved in favor of competency.  38 C.F.R. § 3.353(d).  For the presumption of competency to apply, there must be reasonable doubt as to the beneficiary’s mental capacity, meaning approximate balance of positive and negative evidence.  Sims v. Nicholson, 19 Vet. App. 453, 459 (2006); 38 C.F.R. § 3.102.   
The evidence of record is at least in equipoise as to whether the Veteran is competent to handle his own financial affairs.  In June 2016, a VA Field Examiner opined that the Veteran was competent.  The Field Examiner interviewed the Veteran and determined that the Veteran demonstrated that he was knowledgeable of his financial assets and obligations, and could identify all income sources and amounts and related specific information regarding his day-to-day expenditures.  The VA Field Examiner’s conclusion is supported by an opinion from the Veteran’s treating psychiatrist, N.R.A.  In a May 2015 letter, Dr. N.R.A. opined that the Veteran has the mental capacity to control or manage his own affairs, without limitation, including the disbursement of funds.  Dr. N.R.A. stated that the Veteran appeared to be stable with his medications, is asymptomatic, continues to adhere to his treatment and his insight and judgment were good.  The Board finds these opinions highly probative as they contain clear conclusions with supporting data and a reasoned medical explanation connecting the two.  See Nieves-Rodriguez v. Peake, 22 Vet. App. 295, 301 (2008). Thus, although a doctor determined in October 2011 that the Veteran was not competent to handle disbursement of funds, the evidence of record is at least in equipoise on the issue of competency.  Where there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence, the presumption of competency applies.  Sims, 19 Vet. App. at 459; 38 C.F.R. § 3.353(d).  Thus, the Board finds the Veteran competent for VA purposes.  

 
STEVEN D. REISS
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	Tracie N. Wesner, Counsel 

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