Board erred in denial of increased ratings for knee disabilities

Board erred in denial of increased ratings for knee disabilities

Summary

The Veteran served on active duty in the Army in 1982, 2001-2002, and 2008-2011.  While on active duty in 2002, he was diagnosed with patella tendonitis of his right knee.  That year, he filed a claim for service connection for his right knee disability.  VA granted service connection with a 10% disability evaluation in October 2003.  While on active duty in 2010, he received treatment for patellofemoral syndrome with lateral tilt in both knees.  VA granted service connection for a left knee condition in 2011.  He filed a timely notice of disagreement seeking a higher rating for both knee disabilities.  In April 2013, he underwent an examination wherein the examiner opined he needed an occupation where he could primarily sit.  During another examination in August 2014, he suffered pain on movement in both knees.

Board denied a rating in excess of 10% for knee disabilities

The RO continued the 10% ratings for the Veteran’s knee disabilities in December 2014.  The Veteran later perfected his appeal to the Board.  In July 2016, the Board determined that a rating in excess of 10% for either knee was not warranted.  Specifically the Board found there was a lack of evidence of compensable limitation of flexion or extension.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims the Board’s denial of ratings in excess of 10% for his service-connected knee disabilities.  In its decision, the Board failed to address evidence of functional loss due to pain, weakness, fatigability, and incoordination which may have been sufficient to demonstrate entitlement to a higher rating.  Rather, it focused on the Veteran’s limitation of motion only.

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it focused only on the Veteran’s range of motion measurements and did not address evidence of additional functional loss due to pain in the knees.  The Court held that the Board’s failure to evaluate the Veteran’s functional loss in terms of limitation of motion equivalency for purposes of assigning a degree of disability evaluation was not absolved by lack of limitation of motion in range of motion measurements.  The Court set aside the Board’s decision and remanded the issue for further development and readjudication consistent with the Court’s opinion.

Category: Court Wins