Tag: Responsibility

Single Judge Application; Geib, 733 F.3d at 1354 (establishing that “applicable regulations place responsibility for the ultimate TDIU determination on the VA, not a medical examiner”); Board was therefore prohibited from characterizing their silence on the issue as substantive evidence against entitlement to TDIU; AZ v. Shinseki, 731 F.3d 1303, 1317 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (holding that “where a condition would not normally have been recorded, the Board may not consider the absence of [administrative record] evidence as substantive negative evidence of that condition.”); “[T]he absence of evidence on a particular question cannot be construed as negative evidence against a claimant unless there is a foundation in the record that demonstrates that such silence has a tendency to prove or disprove a relevant fact.” Delrio, 32 Vet.App. at 240 (citing Fountain v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 258, 272 (2015));
Single Judge Application; reason and bases; Dela Cruz v. Principi, 15 Vet.App. 143, 149 (2001); failure discuss all the evidence favorable to a claimant; Gabrielson v. Brown, 7 Vet.App. 36, 40 (1994); the Board cannot “evade [its] statutory responsibility [to state the reasons or bases for its conclusions] merely by adopting [a medical opinion] as its own” where the medical opinion “fails to discuss all the evidence which appears to support [the] appellant’s position.” Gabrielson v. Brown, 7 Vet.App. 36, 40 (1994). Gabrielson does not require that a medical opinion discuss all the evidence favorable to a claimant, only that the Board, in relying on an opinion that does not do so, discuss any additional favorable evidence to comply with its duty to provide an adequate statement of reasons or bases for its decision. See id.; 38 U.S.C. § 7104(d)(1); see also Dela Cruz v. Principi, 15 Vet.App. 143, 149 (2001) (holding that, although the Board must consider all of the evidence of record, “a discussion of all evidence is not required when . . . the Board has supported its decision with thorough reasons or bases regarding the relevant evidence”);

Single Judge Application; the ultimate “lesson of our cases is that, while a pro se claimant’s ‘claim must identify the benefit sought,’ the identification need not be explicit in the claim-stating documents, but can also be found indirectly through examination of evidence to which those documents themselves point when sympathetically read.” Shea v. Wilkie, 926 F.3d 1362, 1368–69 (Fed. Cir. 2019). Here, the claim-stating documents pointed, when sympathetically viewed, to a history of symptoms of abdominal pain that yielded a diagnosis of gastritis. And that’s not all. The veteran’s gastritis was expressly linked to service by VA’s own medical examiner—in the context of an examination sought by the Agency as part of the development of Mr. Martinelli’s other claims.; The Secretary says the veteran is out of his depth in suggesting to the Court that melatonin use indicates sleep issues. But even if that were true, the veteran retorts, the Secretary forgets the Court’s ability to take judicial notice of facts generally known. See Tagupa v. McDonald, 27 Vet.App. 95, 100-01 (2014). Indeed, one need look no further than a basic medical dictionary to conclude that his in-service prescription was favorable, material evidence. Melatonin is “a hormone . . . implicated in the regulation of sleep, mood, puberty, and ovarian cycles. It has been tried therapeutically for a number of conditions, including insomnia and jet lag.” DORLAND’S ILLUSTRATED MEDICAL DICTIONARY 1110 (33d ed. 2020). The Board has a responsibility to explain why it rejects favorable, material evidence. Garner v. Tran, 33 Vet.App. 241, 250 (2021).;

Single Judge Application; the ultimate “lesson of our cases is that, while a pro se claimant’s ‘claim must identify the benefit sought,’ the identification need not be explicit ...

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, ...