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Board Provided Inadequate Statement of Reasons or Bases for Denying Service Connection for Left Knee Disability

Board Provided Inadequate Statement of Reasons or Bases for Denying Service Connection for Left Knee Disability

Procedural History

The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Navy from January 1980 to October 1986.  While in service, the Veteran injured his left knee.  Upon discharge, the Veteran filed his initial application for compensation or pension, seeking service connection and compensation for his left knee disability.  VA denied the Veteran’s claim. In December 2007, the Veteran filed a claim to reopen his previous claim for service connection and compensation for his left knee condition.  VA reopened the Veteran’s claim in 2014 and he attended a VA exam.  In April 2016, the Veteran’s claim for service connection was again denied.

Board denied service connection for the Veteran’s left knee disability

In April 2016, the Board denied service connection for the Veteran’s left knee disability. This decision was based on a VA examiner’s conclusion that the disability was not  related to an in-service injury.  As the Veteran has experience working as a physical therapy technician, the Board found that he was competent to provide medical evidence. However, the Board also determined that his opinion was less persuasive than that of the August 2014 examiner.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed the April 2016 denial of service connection for the Veteran’s left knee disability to the Court.  In its decision, the Board provided inadequate reasons and bases for its finding that the VA examiner’s opinion was more credible than the Veteran’s competent medical opinion.

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board failed to provide adequate reasons and bases for its findings.  Specifically, the Veteran was a physical therapy technician, had received medical training, and was found competent to provide medical opinions.   Nevertheless, the Board found his opinion “speculative.”

The Court  held that Board did not provide reasons or bases for this finding.  The Court also held that the Board did not provide adequate reasons or bases for finding the VA examiner’s opinion more persuasive than that of the Veteran. As such the Court remanded the claim for further adjudication of the Veteran’s service connection claim.  The Board was also ordered to provide adequate reasons and bases for its findings.

 

Category: Court Wins

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