Exploring Alternate Ratings before Extra-Schedular ratings
In 2011, a Veteran filed for service-connection claims of tinnitus, hearing loss, and PTSD. He was originally assigned a 10% rating, but his condition began to worsen and affect his personal life. As a result, he decided to file for an increased (schedular) rating for bilateral hearing loss, but was denied by the Board. They concluded that, “neither the facts of this case nor the Veteran's allegations raise the issue of extraschedular consideration, and a referral for an extraschedular analysis is not necessary.” However, the Appeals Court reminded the Board that their duty to maximize benefits requires them, “to first exhaust all schedular alternatives for rating a disability before the extraschedular analysis is triggered.” Thus, the Court concluded that there is much to be done with rating alternatives before turning to extraschedular ratings.
We occasionally have a Veteran client urge us to pursue an Extra-Schedular rating for their impairment and disability but [except in the case of Total Disability based upon Individual Unemployability [TDIU or IU]] we prefer to exhaust all possibilities available within the Rating Schedule before submitting to the discretion of the Director in seeking an Extra-Schedular rating. Extra-Schedular ratings are difficult to obtain and there is greater unpredictability as to when they will be granted.
If you have disability that exceeds the percentage assigned by the VA, call us for a free strategy session.