Hearing ordered in vet’s claim against VA

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - An Iraq war veteran’s claim that the Department of Veterans Affairs downgraded a diagnosed traumatic brain injury to reduce his disability benefits is moving forward.

A hearings officer with the Department of Labor denied a request by the federal government dismiss a grievance that retired U.S. Army Capt. Charles Gatlin filed with the Montana Board of Psychology against VA psychologist Robert Bateen, who works at Fort Harrison west of Helena.

Hearings officer Gregory Hanchett found factual disputes still exist, so a summary judgment wouldn’t be appropriate, chief administrative law Judge David Schrimm told the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/THMOjL ).

Assistant U.S. Attorney Victoria Francis also argued the state lacked jurisdiction in a claim filed against a federal employee. Hanchett said he did not have the jurisdiction to rule on that matter.

Gatlin’s complaint is scheduled to be heard by Schrimm in Helena on July 16.

Gatlin was injured when an improvised explosive device detonated about 20 yards from him while he was on patrol near Kirkuk in September 2006. After three comprehensive tests, a neuropsychologist found that the cognitive deficits Gatlin had suffered had stabilized and were likely permanent. He was retired with a 70 percent disability rating for a traumatic brain injury, the complaint said.

In August 2011, Gatlin was seen by Bateen and given a brief evaluation after which Bateen determined Gatlin was 10 percent disabled by the brain injury with other issues being caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. The finding would have reduced his disability benefits, but the amount is not clear.

The VA refused to Gatlin a more comprehensive neurological exam and refused to use the results of earlier exams in determining Gatlin’s level of disability, the complaint said.

Bateen’s findings were confirmed by a doctor with the Defense Department’s Mental Health Services.

After reviewing Gatlin’s complaint, a screening panel of the Montana Board of Psychologists found last November that Bateen had engaged in clinical neuropsychology in determining Gatlin’s level of disability, thus practicing outside the scope of his training.

The VA Montana Health System denied the claims and Hanchett’s decision followed the VA’s appeal of the panel’s finding.

___

Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks