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Court Wins

Board erred in denial of service connection for Veteran’s peripheral vascular disease

Lisa Ioannilli

February 27, 2018

Updated: June 20, 2024



The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Air Force from July 1947 to July 1950.  He was injured while in service after he was wedged under the rear axle of a motor pool truck.  His injury required several days of hospitalization, and he received a diagnosis of cellulitis of his left lower leg. The laceration from the injury left a scar on the Veteran’s leg.  By 1955, the Veteran had bright red lesions covering his legs.  By 1968, he had severe numbness in his legs, impacting his ability to walk.  Eventually, the Veteran received a diagnosis of peripheral arterial disease, also known as peripheral vascular disease.  In September 1999, the Veteran submitted his initial claim for service connection and compensation for his bilateral leg injury.  VA denied service connection despite treatment records which indicated the peripheral vascular disease may be related to his in-service injury.

Board denied service connection for the Veteran’s peripheral vascular disease

In June 2016, the Board issued the decision currently on appeal.  In its decision, the Board found that a 2016 negative nexus opinion was the most probative evidence of record.  Therefore, it asserted that the Veteran was denied service connection for his peripheral vascular disease.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court the June 2016 denial of service connection for the Veteran’s peripheral vascular disease.  In its decision, the Board relied on a negative nexus opinion which failed to consider relevant evidence in the Veteran’s record.  The Board also failed to reconcile the negative nexus opinion with conflicting medical opinions in the record.  Thus, the Board provided inadequate reasons and bases for its decision and failed to comply with its duty to assist.

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred in failing to return the negative nexus opinion to the VA examiner for clarification.  The examiner noted the statements regarding the veteran’s lower leg lesions and numbness shortly after service, but failed to adequately consider this evidence of the veteran’s medical history in providing a negative nexus opinion.  Therefore, the Court remanded the claim for the Board to obtain clarification of the 2016 negative nexus opinion.

About the Author

Bio photo of Lisa Ioannilli

Lisa joined CCK in March 2012. Lisa is a Senior Attorney focusing on representing disabled veterans in claims pending before the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

See more about Lisa