Citation Nr: 18160446
Decision Date: 12/26/18	Archive Date: 12/26/18

DOCKET NO. 17-05 536
DATE:	December 26, 2018
A rating in excess of 70 percent for posttraumatic stress disorder is denied.
The Veteran’s posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is currently rated as 70 percent disabling throughout the claim period. He contends that this rating does not accurately reflect the severity of his disability. Specifically, he asserts that he has struggled with suicidal thoughts and homelessness ever since returning from service in Vietnam, and that his PTSD symptoms prevent him from working.
Throughout the claim period, the Veteran’s PTSD has been productive of no more than social and occupational impairment with deficiencies in most areas, including work, judgment, thinking, and mood. It has not been productive of total social and occupational impairment. See, e.g., VA Examinations dated January 2014, March 2016.
The criteria for an increased rating of 100 percent for PTSD are not met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1155, 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 4.130, Diagnostic Code 9411.
The Veteran served on active duty in the Air Force from October 1968 to October 1972. 
This case is before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal from a February 2014 rating decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO) in Cleveland, Ohio.
As indicated above, the Board finds that the criteria for a schedular rating higher than 70 percent are not met because the record does not reflect that the Veteran has demonstrated the symptoms associated with a 100 percent rating, or other symptoms of similar severity, frequency, or duration, or that his PTSD is productive of total social and occupational impairment.
For example, the Veteran has not reported persistent delusions or hallucinations. See VA Treatment Records dated January 2013, January 2014, April 2015, November 2016 (noting no delusions); but see VA Treatment Records dated January 2016, June 2016 (noting possible delusional disorder, without diagnosis). The Veteran has not reported grossly inappropriate behavior or intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living, nor has such been observed. 
Rather, the Veteran has reported keeping up various social and family relationships throughout the claim period. For example, he has consistently reported strong relationships with three of his children, as well as one or more close friendships. See VA Examinations dated January 2014, March 2016; January 2016 VA Treatment Record. The Veteran also reported keeping up various hobbies, such as poetry, photography, and reading. In January and April 2014, the Veteran reported he was working on a novel and a documentary film. In March 2016, the Veteran also reported that he was keeping up at least a minimum of housework.
In addition, VA examiners and clinicians throughout the claim period noted that the Veteran exhibited normal appearance, hygiene, speech, memory, and thought processes, and orientation to person, time, and place. See VA Examinations dated January 2014, March 2016; VA Treatment Records dated January 2013, January 2014, April 2015, June 2016, November 2016.
In determining that the criteria for a 100 percent rating are not met, the Board has considered the lay assertions, including the Veteran’s own statements, as well as various buddy statements from his younger brother, mother, father, and several friends and acquaintances submitted in August 2013, as to his symptomatology and the severity of his condition. It notes that those statements primarily describe symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, difficulty adapting to workplace stress, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty maintaining effective relationships, which are contemplated by the 70 percent, rather than the 100 percent rating criteria.
In any event, to the extent entitlement to a 100 percent rating based on those symptoms is claimed, the Board concludes that the findings during medical evaluations, which do not reflect total occupational and social impairment, are more probative than the lay assertions of record.  The Board has accordingly relied heavily on the VA examinations and VA treatment records showing limitation of function that, at most, approximates the criteria for a 70 percent evaluation.
In short, based on the evidence and analysis above, the Board finds the criteria for a rating in excess of 70 percent are not met. Accordingly, a rating in excess of 70 percent is not warranted.

									(Signature on next page)
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	P. Timmerman, Associate Counsel 

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