The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Navy from June 1969 to March 1971. After service the RO granted him service connection for bilateral hearing loss with a noncompensable rating. The Veteran appealed the noncompensable rating to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. He cited that his condition caused stress in his marriage. Specifically, his inability to hear what his wife was saying when she was not facing him caused conflict. He also noted difficulty engaging in conversations as he needed to ask others for numerous repetitions. Furthermore, his hearing disability caused safety concerns as he could not hear approaching vehicles. The combined effects of his condition prompted him to isolate himself from others.
The Board denies Veteran’s appeal, continues noncompensable rating for bilateral hearing loss
Despite the Veteran’s described symptoms, the Board denied his claim in May 2016. In its decision, the Board declined to refer the Veteran’s claim for extraschedular consideration because there was “no indication that [the Veteran’s] hearing loss has a negative effect beyond what is contemplated in the rating schedule.”
CCK appeals to the Court and the Court agrees with CCK’s arguments
The Veteran, with CCK’s help, successfully appealed to the Court the denial of a compensable rating for his service-connected hearing loss on an extraschedular basis. CCK argued, and the Court agreed, that the Board erred when it inadequately explained whether the rating criteria for hearing loss contemplated the Veteran’s hearing loss difficulties. The Court was “unable to conclude that hearing difficulty rising to the level of marital discord, social isolation, or which jeopardizes safety, is within the contemplation of the rating criteria.” Furthermore, the Court noted that “social isolation, a secondary effect of difficulty speech hearing, may be a factor warranting extraschedular consideration.” The Court therefore set aside the Board’s decision and remanded the issue of entitlement to extraschedular consideration for further proceedings.