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Defense contractor with PTSD eligible for comp: Ruling

Posted On: Jan. 17, 2019 12:57 PM CST

Defense contractor with PTSD eligible for comp: Ruling

A federal judge with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a linguist who worked in Iraq in support of U.S. troops is rightfully eligible for workers compensation after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Interpreter services firm Global Linguist Solutions LLC hired Abdulraouf Abdelmeged to work with U.S. troops for two years during the Iraq War and upon his return suffered symptoms his psychiatrist testified in earlier hearings were related to his work, according to documents in Global Linguist Solutions LLC, Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Abdulraouf Abdelmeged, U.S. Department of Labor, filed in San Francisco.

Two years after he returned, he filed for workers compensation under the federal Defense Base Act, “alleging among other things that PTSD caused by his work in Iraq rendered him incapable of earning his former wages.”

After two separate hearings before an administrative law judge and the Benefits Review Board, both agreed that Mr. Abdelmeged “could not work because of his psychiatric condition that developed from or was aggravated by employment in Iraq, and concluded that Abdelmeged was entitled to compensation from the date he returned from Iraq.”

Herndon, Virginia-based Global Linguist Solutions and its insurer, Zurich American, petitioned for review, arguing that the previous ruling applied the wrong standard when approving the workers compensation claim.

In denying the review, a three-judge panel “held that substantial evidence supported the administrative law judge’s determination that beginning in November 2009, the claimant met both the ‘medical’ and the ‘economic’ aspect of ‘disability’ as defined by the” federal law.

“That evidence includes Abdelmeged’s credible testimony, the opinion of his treating psychiatrist, and his demonstrated inability to earn his former wages upon his return from Iraq. Although other evidence in the record might adequately support a different conclusion, that evidence does not negate or nullify the substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s conclusion,” the ruling states.

The panel also held that the administrative law judge “applied the correct legal standard when considering the evidence in this case” and “correctly concluded that the claimant met his burden to show that he was disabled,” the ruling states.

Officials at Zurich and Global Linguist Solutions could not immediately be reached for comment.