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Service Connection Denial for Hip Bursitis & other conditions Used Insufficient Medical Opinions

Service Connection Denial for Hip Bursitis & other conditions Used Insufficient Medical Opinions

Summary

The Veteran served on active duty in the Air Force from July 1980 to May 1989.  She first filed a claim for service connection for her hips, low back, and plantar fasciitis in December 2006.  To support her claim, she filed numerous lay statements from her supervisors and colleagues from service documenting the work conditions and her accidents in service.  In February 2008, the Regional Office denied service connection for hip bursitis, low back pain, and plantar fasciitis.  The Veteran perfected her appeal to the Board.

Board denies service connection for low back disability, hip bursitis, and plantar fasciitis

In 2014, the Board remanded the Veteran’s service connection claims for further development.  The Veteran completed several VA medical examinations regarding her back, her hips, and feet in March 2015.  In May 2016, the Board denied service connection for the Veteran’s low back disability, hip bursitis, and plantar fasciitis.  The Veteran appealed the denial to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court the denial of service connection for the Veteran’s bilateral hip bursitis, low back disability, and plantar fasciitis. In its decision, the Board relied on a March 2015 VA examination to determine whether it was at least as likely as not that the Veteran’s disabilities were incurred in or caused by the claimed in-service injury, event, or illness. The Board also failed to discuss favorable evidence of record.

CAVC agrees with CCK’s arguments

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the numerous 2015 VA examinations on which the Board relied were insufficient.  Specifically,  the exams discounted the in-service injury reports even though credibility determinations are the Board’s responsibility.  The examiner further found that the lay statements from military personnel did not show convincing evidence.  However, the examiner failed to note which aspect of the appellant’s claim he was not convinced of and why.  Additionally, the Board failed to discuss a favorable private doctor’s opinion finding it “highly likely” that wear and tear of the Veteran’s back was from her military service.  On remand, the Board must explain its reliance on the 2015 examinations or order a new one.

Category: Court Wins

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