Citation Nr: 18124017
Decision Date: 08/03/18	Archive Date: 08/03/18

DOCKET NO. 14-01 305
DATE:	August 3, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for radiculopathy of the left lower extremity is denied.
FINDING OF FACT
The Veteran does not have radiculopathy of the left lower extremity. 
CONCLUSION OF LAW
Radiculopathy of the left lower extremity was not incurred in or aggravated by service and may not be presumed to have been incurred therein.  Radiculopathy is not proximately due to the result of or aggravated by service connected disease or injury.  38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1110, 1112, 1113, 5103, 5103A, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309 (2017).
 

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran served on active duty from April 2007 to April 2012.
1. Entitlement to service connection for radiculopathy of the left lower extremity
Veterans are entitled to compensation if they develop a disability “resulting from personal injury suffered or disease contracted in line of duty, or for aggravation of a preexisting injury suffered or disease contracted in line of duty.”  38 U.S.C. § 1110 (wartime service), 1131 (peacetime service).
To establish entitlement to service-connected compensation benefits, a Veteran must show: “(1) the existence of a present disability; (2) in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) a causal relationship between the present disability and the disease or injury incurred or aggravated during service -the so-called ‘nexus’ requirement.”  Shedden v. Principi, 381 F.3d 1163, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2004).  Service connection may be granted for any disease diagnosed after discharge, when all the evidence, including that pertinent to service establishes that the disability was incurred in service.  38 C.F.R. § 3.303 (d).  The determination as to whether these requirements are met is based on an analysis of all the evidence of record and the evaluation of its credibility and probative value.  See Baldwin v. West, 13 Vet. App. 1, 8 (1999).
The existence of a current disability is the cornerstone of a claim for VA disability compensation.  See 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1131; Degmetich v. Brown, 104 F. 3d 1328 (1997).  Congress specifically limits entitlement for service-connected disease or injury to cases where such incidents have resulted in a disability.  In the absence of proof of a present disability due to disease or injury, there can be no valid claim. Brammer v. Derwinski, 3 Vet. App. 223, 225 (1992). 
Furthermore, the Federal Circuit has noted that in order for a veteran to qualify for compensation under the relevant statutes, the veteran must prove existence of a disability, and one that has resulted from a disease or injury that occurred in the line of duty.  The Board notes that pain can cause disability.  Saunders v. Wilkie, 886 F.3d 1356 (2018).  However, the relevant statute here, 38 U.S.C. § 1110, requires that for the grant of service connection the disability must be due to an identified disease or residual of injury.
The Veteran’s February 2012 claim sought compensation for radiculopathy of the left leg.  The Board notes that the Veteran is service-connected for degenerative disc disease of the thoracolumbar spine.
At a March 2012 VA examination, radiculopathy of the left leg was reported.  However, neurological examination was normal.
At a November 2013 VA examination, muscle strength, reflex, and sensory examinations were normal.  The examiner reported that the Veteran did not have radicular pain or any other symptoms due to radiculopathy.  There was not radiculopathy of the left leg.
At a June 2016 VA examination, muscle strength, reflex, and sensory examinations were normal.  The examiner reported that the Veteran did not have radicular pain or any other symptoms due to radiculopathy.  There was not radiculopathy of the left leg.
A review of VA and private treatment records does not document radiculopathy.  
Here, the Veteran has reported the presence of pain in the left leg.  In his January 2014 Form 9 Substantive Appeal, the Veteran reported that there was something wrong with his left knee.  
The Veteran is competent to report the presence of left leg pain and the Board finds such reports to be credible.  However, it finds the results of diagnostic testing during physical examinations to be more probative than the Veteran’s self-reported diagnosis of radiculopathy of the left leg.  Here, his reports of pain have been established to be not due to radiculopathy and no other pathology has been identified.
Here, the preponderance of the evidence is against the claim.  Service connection is granted when there is evidence of in-service disease or injury resulting in disability.  38 U.S.C. § 1110.  Similarly, secondary service connection requires disability and a link to service connected disease or injury.  38 C.F.R. § 3.310.  The Veteran has presented no reliable of pathology (disease or injury) to account for his post-service complaints of left leg pain.  The evidence establishes that he does not have radiculopathy.  As such, service connection may not be granted on a direct, presumptive or secondary basis.  Here, there is no relationship (causation or aggravation) to a service connected disease or injury.
While the Veteran may believe that he has radiculopathy of the left leg, the Board finds the physical examinations and diagnostic testing performed by medical professionals to be more probative than the Veteran’s self-diagnosis.  Since there is no identifiable disease or injury in this case, there is no basis for service connection of the claimed disorder.  In other words, there is no underlying disease or injury, or no identified pathology with respect to the reported left leg symptoms.  Thus, the preponderance of the evidence is against the claim and there is no doubt to be resolved.  Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49 (1990).  
 
H. N. SCHWARTZ
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	W. R. Stephens, Counsel 

For A Complete Guide To VA Disability Claims and to find out more about your potential VA disability case and how to obtain favorable VA Rating Decision! Visit: VA-Claims.org

For More Information on Veterans Disability Compensation Benefits! Visit: DisableVeteran.org ~ A Non-Profit Non Governmental Agency

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