Tag: remand

Single Judge Application; section 311 meant in 1981; CUE; presumption of soundness; The appellant argues that the Board erred in its determination that no CUE existed in the 1981 RO decision. Specifically, he contends that Wagner is an authoritative statement of what section 311 meant at the time of the 1981 RO decision. Appellant’s Brief (Br.) at 6. The Court agrees with the appellant that the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of section 1111 in Wagner is an authoritative statement of what that statute has meant since the date of enactment in 1958. See Rivers v. Roadway Express, 511 U.S. 298, 312-13 (1994) (“A judicial construction of a statute is an authoritative statement of what the statute meant before as well as after the decision of the case giving rise to that construction.”); Patrick v. Shinseki, 668 F.3d at 1325, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (“We made clear . . . , that ‘[u]nlike changes in regulations and statutes, which are prospective, our interpretation of a statute is retrospective in that it explains what the statute has meant since the date of enactment.’” (quoting Patrick v. Nicholson, 242 F. App’x 695, 698 (Fed. Cir. 2007)(remanding for further consideration of CUE request using the correct standard articulated in Wagner and directing remand to Board, if necessary, to determine whether the Secretary has rebutted the presumption of soundness by providing clear and unmistakable evidence that the presumption has been rebutted))); see also Jordan v. Nicholson, 401 F.3d 1296, 1298 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (noting that the appellant’s CUE request challenges the validity of a regulation but does not question the correct legal standard under the statute, and that “Wagner governs that issue”). Thus, the Court agrees with the appellant that the Board erred when it concluded that he could not challenge the correct legal standard that applies under section 1111 in the CUE context.;

Single Judge Application; section 311 meant in 1981; CUE; presumption of soundness; The appellant argues that the Board erred in its determination that no CUE existed in the 1981 RO decision. Specifically, he contends that Wagner is an authoritative statement of what section 311 meant at the time of the 1981 RO decision. Appellant’s Brief (Br.) at 6. The Court agrees with the appellant that the Federal Circuit’s interpretation of section 1111 in Wagner is an authoritative statement of what that statute has meant since the date of enactment in 1958. See Rivers v. Roadway Express, 511 U.S. 298, 312-13 (1994) (“A judicial construction of a statute is an authoritative statement of what the statute meant before as well as after the decision of the case giving rise to that construction.”); Patrick v. Shinseki, 668 F.3d at 1325, 1329 (Fed. Cir. 2011) (“We made clear . . . , that ‘[u]nlike changes in regulations and statutes, which are prospective, our interpretation of a statute is retrospective in that it explains what the statute has meant since the date of enactment.’” (quoting Patrick v. Nicholson, 242 F. App’x 695, 698 (Fed. Cir. 2007)(remanding for further consideration of CUE request using the correct standard articulated in Wagner and directing remand to Board, if necessary, to determine whether the Secretary has rebutted the presumption of soundness by providing clear and unmistakable evidence that the presumption has been rebutted))); see also Jordan v. Nicholson, 401 F.3d 1296, 1298 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (noting that the appellant’s CUE request challenges the validity of a regulation but does not question the correct legal standard under the statute, and that “Wagner governs that issue”). Thus, the Court agrees with the appellant that the Board erred when it concluded that he could not challenge the correct legal standard that applies under section 1111 in the CUE context.;

Single Judge Application; section 311 meant in 1981; CUE; presumption of soundness; The appellant argues that the Board erred in its determination that no CUE existed in the ...

Single Judge Application; Tadlock remand from Federal Circuit; overlapping signs or symptoms; Veterans of the Gulf War can establish entitlement to service connection on a presumptive basis for “a qualifying chronic disability” that arises during service or to a compensable degree before December 31, 2026. 38 U.S.C. § 1117; 38 C.F.R. § 3.317(a)(1)(i) (2021). A “qualifying chronic disability” is one that results from either an “undiagnosed illness” or a “medically unexplained chronic multisymptom illness [(MUCMI)] that is defined by a cluster of signs or symptoms.” 38 C.F.R. § 3.317(a)(2)(i)(A)-(B). A MUCMI, inturn, is defined as “a diagnosed illness without conclusive pathophysiology or etiology, that is characterized by overlapping symptoms and signs and has features such as fatigue, pain, disability out of proportion to physical findings, and inconsistent demonstration of laboratory abnormalities.” Id. § 3.317(a)(2)(ii);
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, ...