Citation Nr: 18900003
Decision Date: 08/15/18	Archive Date: 08/15/18

DOCKET NO. 180628-44
DATE:	August 15, 2018
ORDER
New and relevant evidence has been received, sufficient to readjudicate the claims of entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis; to this extent only, the appeal is granted.
REMANDED
Entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis are remanded.
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. A May 2014 rating decision continued a February 2012 denial of entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, and right hand disability, and denied entitlement to service connection for bilateral plantar fasciitis.
2. Evidence received since the May 2014 rating decision includes evidence that is new and relevant to the issues of entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis. 
CONCLUSION OF LAW
New and relevant evidence has been received and readjudication of the service connection claims for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis is required.  38 U.S.C. §§ 101(35), 5108.
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran had active service from July 2006 to July 2010 with the United States Marine Corps.
On August 23, 2017, the President signed into law the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, also known as the Appeals Modernization Act (AMA). Pub. L. No. 115-55, 131 Stat. 1105 (2017) (to be codified as amended in scattered sections of 38 U.S.C.).  This law creates a new framework for Veterans dissatisfied with VA’s decision on their claim to seek review. The Veteran chose to participate in BEAAM, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) Early Applicability of Appeals Modernization research program.  This decision has been written consistent with the new AMA framework.
As an initial matter, the Board observes that the Veteran submitted a claim on VA Form 21-526EZ with a statement in April 2017 to the effect that a February 2012 rating decision constituted clear and unmistakable error (CUE) when it denied entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left elbow disability, a left shoulder disability, and a right hand disability, and failed to adjudicate the issues of entitlement to service connection for bilateral plantar fasciitis and a skin disability. These claims have not been developed and so are not before the Board.
Whether new and relevant evidence has been submitted.
In a May 2014 rating decision, the agency of original jurisdiction (AOJ) continued a February 2012 rating decision which denied the entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left elbow disability, a left shoulder disability, and a right hand disability on the basis that such disabilities were not related to the Veteran’s active service.  The May 2014 rating decision also denied entitlement to service connection for bilateral plantar fasciitis on the basis that no in-service event was established.  The Veteran did not appeal the May 2014 rating decision and it became final.
Evidence received subsequent to the May 2014 rating decision includes a January 2018 VA examination report that documents diagnoses of lumbar strain, right hand arthritis, left shoulder strain, left elbow epicondylitis, and bilateral plantar fasciitis.  The VA examiner opined that all the conditions diagnosed were less likely than not related to the Veteran’s verified service in Southwest Asia.  
The Board finds that the January 2018 VA examination report is new, in that it was not previously before agency decision makers, and that such evidence is relevant to the claims currently on appeal as diagnoses and medical nexus opinions were provided. Therefore, based on the finding that new and relevant evidence has been associated with the record subsequent to the May 2014 rating decision, the claims of entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis must be readjudicated. 
REASONS FOR REMAND
Entitlement to service connection for a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis are remanded.
The issues of entitlement to a low back disability, a left shoulder disability, a left elbow disability, a right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis are remanded to correct a prior error by VA.  The AOJ obtained a January 2018 VA examination and medical opinion prior to the February 2018 rating decision on appeal.  However, this medical opinion does not provide an adequate rationale regarding whether the Veteran’s claimed disabilities had their onset in service or are otherwise related to service.  Specifically, the examiner only opined as to whether the Veteran’s claimed disabilities were due to service in Southwest Asia.  Therefore, the Board finds that remand is necessary to afford the Veteran a new VA examination and obtain an adequate medical opinion.
The matters are REMANDED for the following action:
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Schedule the Veteran for an examination by an appropriate clinician to determine the nature and etiology of any currently diagnosed low back disability, left shoulder disability, left elbow disability, right hand disability, and bilateral plantar fasciitis disability. The examiner must opine whether it is at least as likely as not related to an in-service injury, event, or disease, including the Veteran’s lay statements concerning the nature of his combat service in Iraq.
The examiner should provide a complete rationale for each opinion given, with citation to medical and competent lay evidence of record as necessary.
 
DAVID GRATZ
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	A. Haddock, Counsel

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