Citation Nr: 18154225
Decision Date: 11/29/18	Archive Date: 11/29/18

DOCKET NO. 01-02 282
DATE:	November 29, 2018
Entitlement to service connection for a cervical spine disorder is remanded.
The Veteran served on active duty from January 1976 to May 1999.  This appeal initially came before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) from a February 2000 rating decision of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO) which, in part, denied service connection for residuals of a neck injury.  
This appeal has been before the Board on numerous occasions including on prior remand from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) in August 2011.  
Most recently, the Board denied service connection for a cervical spine disorder in a July 2016 decision.  In March 2017, the Board denied reconsideration of the decision.  The Veteran appealed the Board’s decision and in December 2017 the Court vacated the decision and remanded the claim for compliance with the instructions in a Joint Motion for Partial Remand (JMR). 
In August 2006, the Veteran testified at a hearing before one of the undersigned Veterans Law Judges (VLJs).  A transcript of this testimony is associated with the claims file.  The VLJ who conducted this hearing was subsequently appointed as Chairman of the Board which requires this matter to adjudicated by a panel.  38 U.S.C. § 7102(b).  In May 2018, the Veteran was offered an opportunity for hearings before the other VLJs on the panel but did not respond to the offer; the notification letter specifically stated that if no response was received the Board would assume that the Veteran did not want additional hearings.  Thus, the Board finds no hearing request pending regarding this issue.  
There are other issues on appeal which were not the subject of the prior hearing, and do not require the Chairman’s participation.  These issues will be the subject of a separate decision issued under a different docket number. 
Entitlement to service connection for a cervical spine disorder is remanded.
The December 2017 JMR found that the medical opinion provided in the October 2015 VA examination report was inadequate because the examiner did not provide adequate rationale.  Accordingly, remand for an additional medical opinion is required.  
The matter is REMANDED for the following action:
The claims file should be sent to the examiner who conducted the October 2015 VA Compensation and Pension examination or an appropriate substitute.  The examiner should review the evidence and offer an opinion as to whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent probability or greater) that:
(a)	the current cervical spine disorder is related to an in-service injury, event, or disease, to include an in-service motor vehicle accident in 1990; or,  
(b)	the current cervical spine osteoarthritis had its onset prior to the Veteran’s retirement from service in 1999.  
In offering the opinion, the examiner must consider the August 2000 private x-ray examination report showing a bony opacity adjacent to the spinous process at the C7 Level, as well as the medical evidence showing degenerative disc disease and arthritis of the cervical spine dated in 2004, approximately 4 years after the Veteran retired from active duty service.  
The need for an examination is left to the discretion of the examiner.  A rationale for all opinions offered is required. 
(Continued on the next page)

The examiner is reminded that if part of the basis for an adverse opinion is a lack of documented treatment, the examiner should discuss the medical significance of that fact (e.g., why it would be expected that treatment would have occurred) as well as the Veteran’s lay statements regarding symptomatology.  
Acting Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals

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