Tag: Boards

Single Judge Application; The Board cannot avoid adjudicating an issue before it, here the proper rating, simply because it may also arise in a different claim. See Rice, 22 Vet.App. at 450-54 (clarifying that TDIU is not a “claim” but an entitlement to a total disability rating when certain qualifications are met); As appellant notes, the Board’s failure to address entitlement to TDIU based solely on the veteran’s migraine headaches was prejudicial because that entitlement may lead to eligibility for SMC under 38 U.S.C. § 1114(s). See Bradley v. Peake, 22 Vet.App. 280, 293 (2008) (“[S]ection 1114(s) does not limit ‘a service-connected disability rated as total’ to only a schedular rating of 100%, and the Secretary’s current regulation permits a [total disability rating based on individual unemployability] based on a single disability to satisfy the statutory requirement of a total rating.” (quoting 38 U.S.C. § 1114(s))); And VA has had a long-standing policy of considering SMC where it may apply, even if not explicitly raised. See Akles v. Derwinski, 1 Vet.App. 118, 121 (1991);
Single Judge Application; Tedesco v. Wilkie; implicit bias against lay evidence; The Board’s analysis is substantially similar to the Board’s analysis in Tedesco v. Wilkie, where the Board noted an appellant’s reports of knee instability but found medical evidence more probative. 31 Vet.App. 360, 367 (2019). We ultimately remanded that claim, stating that “[t]he Board fail[ed] to explain why the medical findings are more probative, other than to assert that the ‘specific medical tests . . . are designed to reveal instability . . . of the joints.’” Id. Just as in Tedesco, the Board’s statement here, that “[t]he DBQs were completed by medical professionals who formulated their conclusions based on a physical examination, review of the record, and interview of the Veteran,” fails to suggest any actual reasons or bases for finding the lay statements outweighed by “significant objective evidence,” other than an implicit bias against lay evidence and a preference for medical evidence. R. at 8. The Board also failed to explain why it considered the appellant’s lay statements “generalized.”;
Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, if any, the Board gave this evidence in assigning a rating for appellant’s GERD. It is important for the Board to make such a finding in the first instance.19 We recognize that the Secretary offers several arguments about why extraschedular referral is not warranted for appellant’s GERD. However, it is ultimately not his prerogative to provide an explanation that the Board did not. As we have often said, the Secretary cannot make up for the Board’s deficient statement of reasons or bases.20; 19 See Tadlock v. McDonough, 5 F.4th 1327, 1337-38 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“Where additional findings of fact are necessary regarding mattes open to debate, the proper action is for the Veterans Court is to remand to the Board for consideration of those facts in the first instance.”).; 20 See In re Lee, 277 F.3d 1338, 1345-46 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (“‘[C]ourts may not accept appellate counsel’s post hoc rationalization for agency action.’” (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168 (1962))); McCray v. Wilkie, 31 Vet.App. 243, 258 (2019) (“[T]he Secretary’s impermissible post-hoc rationalization cannot make up for shortcomings in the Board’s assessment.”); Simmons v. Wilkie, 30 Vet.App. 267, 277 (2018) (holding that the “Court cannot accept the Secretary’s post-hoc rationalizations” to cure the Board’s reasons-or-bases errors), aff’d, 964 F.3d 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2020); Smith v. Nicholson, 19 Vet.App. 63, 73 (2015) (“[I]t is not the task of the Secretary to rewrite the Board’s decision through his pleadings filed in this Court.”).;

Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, if any, the Board gave this evidence in assigning a rating for appellant’s GERD. It is important for the Board to make such a finding in the first instance.19 We recognize that the Secretary offers several arguments about why extraschedular referral is not warranted for appellant’s GERD. However, it is ultimately not his prerogative to provide an explanation that the Board did not. As we have often said, the Secretary cannot make up for the Board’s deficient statement of reasons or bases.20; 19 See Tadlock v. McDonough, 5 F.4th 1327, 1337-38 (Fed. Cir. 2021) (“Where additional findings of fact are necessary regarding mattes open to debate, the proper action is for the Veterans Court is to remand to the Board for consideration of those facts in the first instance.”).; 20 See In re Lee, 277 F.3d 1338, 1345-46 (Fed. Cir. 2002) (“‘[C]ourts may not accept appellate counsel’s post hoc rationalization for agency action.’” (quoting Burlington Truck Lines, Inc. v. United States, 371 U.S. 156, 168 (1962))); McCray v. Wilkie, 31 Vet.App. 243, 258 (2019) (“[T]he Secretary’s impermissible post-hoc rationalization cannot make up for shortcomings in the Board’s assessment.”); Simmons v. Wilkie, 30 Vet.App. 267, 277 (2018) (holding that the “Court cannot accept the Secretary’s post-hoc rationalizations” to cure the Board’s reasons-or-bases errors), aff’d, 964 F.3d 1381 (Fed. Cir. 2020); Smith v. Nicholson, 19 Vet.App. 63, 73 (2015) (“[I]t is not the task of the Secretary to rewrite the Board’s decision through his pleadings filed in this Court.”).;

Single Judge Application; deficient reasons and bases; It is the Board’s responsibility as factfinder to assess and weigh the evidence.18 Here, we simply do not know the weight, ...

“[P]rivate medical evidence since the initial exam that indicates the veteran’s medical history [] include[s] cold injury residuals [is] based upon his verbal history—not the evidence of record.” R. at 3583. There is no doubt that the RO’s distinction between the “evidence of record” and the veteran’s own statements was completely misleading at best. See 38 U.S.C.§ 5107(b) (requiring the Secretary to “consider all information and lay and medical evidence of record in a case”); Davidson v. Shinseki, 581 F.3d 1313, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (noting that VA is required to give due consideration to all pertinent medical and lay evidence in evaluating a claim to disability or death benefits); Buchanan v. Nicholson, 451 F.3d 1331, 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (explaining that””lay evidence is one type of evidence that must be considered, if submitted, when a veteran’s claim seeks disability benefits” and holding that, in certain situations, “competent lay evidence can be sufficient in and of itself” to establish entitlement to such benefits). The language used in the request indicates that the veteran’s own statements are not “evidence of record” and would require at least corroboration in service medical records to be credible and probative. That is contrary to Buchanan, 451 F.3d at 1335 (finding improper the Board’s determination that ‘lay statements lacked credibility merely because they were not corroborated by contemporaneous [SMRs]”).; » HadIt.com For Veterans Who’ve Had It With The VA

“[P]rivate medical evidence since the initial exam that indicates the veteran’s medical history [] include[s] cold injury residuals [is] based upon his verbal history—not the evidence of record.” R. at 3583. There is no doubt that the RO’s distinction between the “evidence of record” and the veteran’s own statements was completely misleading at best. See 38 U.S.C.§ 5107(b) (requiring the Secretary to “consider all information and lay and medical evidence of record in a case”); Davidson v. Shinseki, 581 F.3d 1313, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (noting that VA is required to give due consideration to all pertinent medical and lay evidence in evaluating a claim to disability or death benefits); Buchanan v. Nicholson, 451 F.3d 1331, 1335 (Fed. Cir. 2006) (explaining that””lay evidence is one type of evidence that must be considered, if submitted, when a veteran’s claim seeks disability benefits” and holding that, in certain situations, “competent lay evidence can be sufficient in and of itself” to establish entitlement to such benefits). The language used in the request indicates that the veteran’s own statements are not “evidence of record” and would require at least corroboration in service medical records to be credible and probative. That is contrary to Buchanan, 451 F.3d at 1335 (finding improper the Board’s determination that ‘lay statements lacked credibility merely because they were not corroborated by contemporaneous [SMRs]”).; » HadIt.com For Veterans Who’ve Had It With The VA

Single Judge Application; Davidson v. Shinseki, 581 F.3d 1313, 1316 (Fed. Cir. 2009); The RO’s request distinguished between the veteran’s statements and the other evidence of record: “rivate ...

Single Judge Application; substantive negative evidence; Fountain v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 258, 272 (2015); Horn v. Shinseki, 25 Vet.App. 231, 239 (2012); to the extent that the Board’s analysis may be read as implicitly finding him not credible because his service records did not confirm his testimony regarding the locations of his barracks and the flightline relative to the Udorn Air Base perimeter, the Board generally must “first establish a proper foundation for drawing inferences against a claimant from an absence of documentation.” Fountain v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 258, 272 (2015); Notably, a lack of confirmation is not the same as a contradiction of the claimant’s assertions. See Horn v. Shinseki, 25 Vet.App. 231, 239 (2012) (observing that the absence of evidence is not necessarily substantive negative evidence). And here, the Board did not explain whether and why it would be expected to find corroboration of the barracks and flightline locations relative to the perimeter in Mr. Cornelious’s service records. Thus, to the extent that the Board drew a negative inference from the lack of corroborating service records and relied on that inference to find Mr. Cornelious not credible, the Court concludes that the Board failed to lay a proper foundation. See Fountain, 27 Vet.App. at 272; Horn, 25 Vet.App. at 239;

Single Judge Application; substantive negative evidence; Fountain v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 258, 272 (2015); Horn v. Shinseki, 25 Vet.App. 231, 239 (2012); to the extent that the Board’s analysis ...