Citation Nr: 18124035
Decision Date: 08/03/18	Archive Date: 08/03/18

DOCKET NO. 16-12 369A
DATE:	August 3, 2018
Service connection for hearing loss condition is remanded.
This appeal has been advanced on the Board’s docket pursuant to 38 C.F.R. § 20.900(c). 
The Veteran served on active duty with the United States Army from August 1965 to August 1967.  
This matter comes before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal of a December 2013 rating decision issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office (RO) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1. Service connection for hearing loss condition is remanded.
The Veteran contends that his current bilateral hearing loss condition is directly related to in-service noise exposure in his military occupational specialty (MOS) of Auto Weapons Crewman. 
Evidence indicates that there are outstanding relevant VA treatment records.  The October 2013 VA examination report indicates that VA medical files, including an audio test from January 2012, were considered with the examination, however these medical files are not associated with the Veteran’s VA claims file. Any VA treatment records are within VA’s constructive possession.  A remand is required to allow VA to obtain them.
Additionally, the record establishes a current disability and in-service noise exposure. The question remaining before the Board is whether the Veteran’s current disability is related to his military service. 
However, the October 2013 VA examination and opinion on that point are inadequate. The examiner did not consider the Veteran’s noise exposure during military service. The examiner instead opined that the Veteran’s current hearing loss is more likely related to age and post-service occupational noise exposure. The VA examiner did not discuss the Veteran’s MOS or the Veteran’s noise exposure in the military in the rationale. 
Furthermore, based on opinions from VA examiners, VA has granted service connection for tinnitus as due to in-service noise exposure.  The hearing loss examiner failed to address the apparent contradiction in the conclusions regarding the impact of in-service noise exposure on hearing and the ears..
The Board finds that a new examination is necessary to provide an adequate opinion on theetiology of the Veteran’s hearing loss. 
The matter is REMANDED for the following action:
1. Obtain the Veteran’s VA treatment records for the period prior to October 2013 and associate the VA treatment records with the claims file, including the January 2012 VA audio examination. 
2. Schedule the Veteran for an examination by an audiologist to determine the nature and etiology of the Veteran’s bilateral hearing loss. The claims folder must be reviewed in conjunction with the examination.  The examiner must opine whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent probability or greater) that any current hearing loss is related to an in-service injury, event, or disease, including military noise exposure. The examiner must address and reconcile the opinions in previous VA examinations for hearing loss and tinnitus. 
3.  Review the claims file to ensure that all of the foregoing requested development is completed, and arrange for any additional development indicated.  Then readjudicate the claim on appeal.  If f the benefit sought remains denied, issue an appropriate supplemental statement of the case and provide the Veteran and his representative the requisite period of time to respond.  The case should then be returned to the Board for further appellate review, if otherwise in order
Acting Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals

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