Summary of the Case: Board Reduces Veteran’s Ratings to 0%
The Veteran served in the United States Air Force from January 1982 to August 2003. The Veteran initially applied for service connection for rhinitis in 2003 and was subsequently granted a 10% disability rating by the Regional Office (RO). A January 2005 VA examination showed that the Veteran had 50% obstruction in his nasal passage, which warranted a 10% rating under Diagnostic Code (DC) 6522. The Veteran underwent another VA examination in March of 2008 in which the examiner found only 20% obstruction of his nasal passage.
Eleven days after the examination, the RO issued a rating decision reducing the Veteran’s rating from 10% to 0% based on the March examination. After appealing to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the Board denied the Veteran’s claim that the reduction was improper.
CCK Successfully Appeals to Court
CCK successfully appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims the Board decision that denied the Veteran’s claim that the reduction was improper. The Board found that the Veteran’s condition no longer met the requirements of the 10% rating and therefore his condition had improved under the ordinary conditions of daily life.
The Court Agrees with CCK’s Argument that the Board Erred in Reducing the Veteran’s Rating
CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it reduced the Veteran’s rating. The Court found that the Board erred when it relied on a medical examination that failed to explain how the Veteran’s constant use of medication impacted his condition. The Board should not have considered the relief provided by medication when making a decision about a veteran’s rating.
The Court also found that the Board erred when it relied on an inadequate medical examination to reduce the Veteran’s rating, as that examination did not review the Veteran’s medical history. Finally, the Court found that the Board improperly found that the Veteran’s condition improved under the ordinary conditions of life and work. Instead of actually considering that question, the Board only focused on comparing the Veteran’s symptoms to the rating criteria. The Court reversed the Board’s decision and ordered that the Veteran’s 10% rating be reinstated.
To read the Court’s decision, click here.