Hemorrhoids denial contained legal error by BVA, Court finds

Hemorrhoids denial contained legal error by BVA, Court finds

Summary

The Veteran served on active duty in the Army from 1974 to 1976.  He filed a claim for service connection for hemorrhoids in 2003, which was initially denied.  He was subsequently granted service connection in 2006 and assigned a non-compensable rating.  The Veteran appealed the non-compensable rating, and ultimately received a new VA examination.  In October of 2011, the exam demonstrated symptoms of bleeding and anemia.  In August of 2012, VA awarded the Veteran a 20% evaluation for hemorrhoids effective from the date of the October 2011 examination. Eventually, the Veteran was awarded a 10% rating for the period between 2003 and 2011.  He continued his appeal seeking a higher rating for both periods.

Board denied increased rating for hemorrhoids for both periods on appeal

The Veteran’s claim was initially denied by the Board in April of 2013. He appealed that denial to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.  That October, the Court granted a joint motion for remand sending the case back to the Board to assess the current severity of the Veteran’s disability. After a new VA examination in June of 2014, the Board again remanded the issue to obtain additional information.  Following a new exam in December of 2015, the case returned to the Board.  In June of 2016, the Board again denied the Veteran entitlement to a rating in excess of 10% for the period prior to October 2011, and in excess of 20% for the period since 2011.  The Board also determined that all of the Veteran’s symptoms were compensated by his schedular rating.

CCK appeals to the Court

CCK successfully appealed to the Court the Board’s denial of an increased rating for the Veteran’s hemorrhoids on an extraschedular basis for both time periods.  In its decision, the Board concluded that the applicable rating criteria contemplated all of the effects of the Veteran’s disability, such as pain, difficulty sitting or lifting, itching, and blockage, despite the fact that the criteria only list bleeding and anemia.

CAVC agrees with CCK’s argument

CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board did not adequately explain how it reached its conclusion.  Specifically, the Board did not explain how the Veteran’s symptoms were contemplated by the schedular criteria for hemorrhoids.  The Court also agreed that the Board erred when it failed to consider whether the Veteran’s hemorrhoids in combination with other service-connected disabilities created an exceptional disability picture, and it failed to consider evidence demonstrating difficulties with employment due to the condition.  Accordingly, the Court set aside the Board’s decision concluding that extraschedular consideration was not warranted for the Veteran’s disability.  The Court remanded the matter for readjudication consistent with its opinion.

Category: Court Wins