Citation Nr: 18132234
Decision Date: 09/06/18	Archive Date: 09/06/18

DOCKET NO. 16-11 518A
DATE:	September 6, 2018
REMANDED
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran had active military service from August 1968 until August 1970.
These matters come before the Board of Veterans' Appeals (Board) from a May 2014 rating decision of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), Regional Office (RO).
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
The Veteran was afforded a VA examination in April 2014. The examiner opined that the Veteran's current bilateral hearing loss is not at least as likely as not caused by or the result of his military service. The examiner relied in part on the Veteran’s entrance audiogram, which the examiner noted the Veteran with normal hearing. However, the examiner failed to note that the June 1968 audiogram annotation of “audio in error”. As the June 1968 audiogram was noted with an error, the Board finds the April 2014 opinion, which relied on its results, to be inadequate.
Additionally, the April 2014 examiner relied on the Veteran’s July 1970 audiogram conducted prior to his separation. The examiner noted that the Veteran’s hearing was within normal limits. The Board notes that in the 1960's, the military changed its standard of measuring hearing acuity. The American Standards Association (ASA) units were replaced with the current International Standards Organization (ISO) units. The Veteran's separation audiogram was dated in July 1970; this is after the October 31, 1967 date on which the military was assumed to change standards. Though the standards of measuring hearing acuity were to be replaced from ASA to ISO effective November 1, 1967. Through historical research the Board has found that that the conversion date of November 1, 1967, may not have been consistent among all military branches. Thus, the Board finds it necessary to convert audiograms between January 1, 1967 and December 31, 1970 when the standard used is not clearly indicated. In this case, the July 1970 in-service audiogram was not clearly indicated, and the April 2014 examiner did discuss converting the in-service audiogram. As such, an opinion considering the July 1970 audiogram properly converted to ISO units is necessary.
Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is remanded.
The April 2014 VA examination report noted that the Veteran did not report recurrent tinnitus. This note is inconsistent with the Veteran’s statements within the claims folder. Additionally, the examiner did not provide a medical opinion on the Veteran’s claimed condition. Thus, the Board finds that a supplemental examination and opinion considering the Veteran’s statements and the claims folder as a whole is necessary. As such, the claim is remanded for further development.
The matters are REMANDED for the following action:
1. Obtain a VA medical examination for the claims for service connection for bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus. An opinion shall be obtained from an appropriately qualified examiner. The claims file should be made available for the examiner to review and the examination report should reflect that such review was accomplished.
a.) The examiner is requested to opine as to whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent or greater) that the Veteran's bilateral hearing loss disability is related to, or aggravated by, his active military service.
b.) The examiner is requested to opine as to whether it is at least as likely as not that the Veteran has tinnitus related to, or aggravated by, his active military service.
Any opinion provided should include a complete rationale discussing the Veteran's credible statements, his in-service noise exposure, his current medical conditions, and available medical literature in regard to the issues on appeal.
2. After undertaking any other development deemed appropriate, readjudicate the issues on appeal. If any benefit sought on appeal is not granted, issue a supplemental statement of the case and provide the Veteran, and his representative, with an appropriate 
 
opportunity to respond. The case should then be returned to the Board for further appellate consideration.
 
M. H. HAWLEY
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	Brandon A. Williams, 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

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