Denial of separate ratings for knee disabilities, instability was improper

Denial of separate ratings for knee disabilities, instability was improper

Summary

Mr. Stogden served on active duty in the United States Navy from October 1987 to April 2007. He was granted service connection for a bilateral knee disability in October 2007 and assigned noncompensable ratings for both knee disabilities. The Veteran timely appealed this decision to the Board and, in September 2015, the Board granted entitlement to an initial ten percent rating for each knee for the period prior to September 2013. Mr. Stogden appealed this decision, and the parties agreed to a joint motion for partial remand in June 2016 at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

 

Board denies increased ratings for knee disabilities, including separate ratings for knee instability

The Board issued a new decision in January 2017. It denied an increased rating for each knee in excess of ten percent prior to September 2013. As a part of this decision, the Board denied separate ratings for bilateral knee instability.

 

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed the denial of increased ratings for Mr. Stogden’s service-connected knee disabilities to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). In its decision, the Board determined that the objective testing results outweighed the Veteran’s statements regarding his knee instability. The Board did not explain why the objective testing results were entitled to more weight than the Veteran’s statements. It found the Veteran competent to report on his knee instability and did not question the credibility of his statements.

 

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board’s denial of increased ratings for the Veteran’s left and right knee disabilities was improper. The relevant law does not state that objective testing results should dictate the Board’s decision. The relevant law also does not state that objective testing results are entitled to more weight than lay statements. Therefore, the Board needed to explain why it found the objective testing results to be more probative than the Veteran’s lay statements about his bilateral knee instability. The Court concluded that the Board erred when it failed to properly explain why the objective testing results outweighed the Veteran’s statements. The Court further determined that this error warranted remand.

 

Click here to read the Court’s decision. 

Category: Court Wins