Citation Nr: 18154141
Decision Date: 11/29/18	Archive Date: 11/29/18

DOCKET NO. 15-10 574
DATE:	November 29, 2018
ORDER
Entitlement to service connection for a right knee disability is denied. 
Entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability is denied.  
FINDING OF FACT
The preponderance of the evidence shows that the Veteran’s right knee disability and her psychiatric disability did not have its onset in service and is not etiologically related to service.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
The criteria for entitlement to service connection for a right knee disability have not been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303 (2017). 
The criteria for entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability have not been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1131, 5103, 5103A, 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.159, 3.303 (2017). 

REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran served on active duty from June 1995 to July 1998. 
This matter comes before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA or Board) on appeal from a July 2012 rating decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO) in Detroit, Michigan.
The Board notes that the July 2015 VA Form 8, certifying the Veteran’s appeal to the Board, inaccurately reflected that a hearing had been requested. However, the March 2015 VA Form 9 clearly indicates that the Veteran did not request a Board hearing. Thus, the Board finds that the VA Form 8 erroneously noted that a hearing had been requested. 
Entitlement to service connection for a right knee disability is denied. 
Under the relevant laws and regulations, service connection may be granted if the evidence demonstrates that a current disability resulted from an injury or disease incurred or aggravated in active military service. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1131 (2012); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303 (a) (2017). In general, service connection requires competent evidence showing: (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. Shedden v. Principi, 381 F.3d 1163, 1167 (Fed. Cir. 2004).
Additionally, where symptoms are capable of lay observation, a lay witness is competent to testify to a lack of symptoms prior to service, continuity of symptoms after in-service injury or disease, and receipt of medical treatment for such symptoms. Charles v. Principi, 16 Vet. App 370, 374 (2002).
When considering whether lay evidence is competent, the Board must determine, on a case by case basis, whether the Veteran’s particular disability is the type of disability for which lay evidence may be competent. Kahana v. Shinseki, 24 Vet. App. 428 (2011). However, although the Veteran is competent in certain situations to provide a diagnosis of a simple condition such as a headache, varicose veins, or tinnitus, the Veteran is not competent to provide evidence as to more complex medical questions, such as the etiology of psychiatric, respiratory, or orthopedic disorders. See Woehlaert v. Nicholson, 21 Vet. App. 456 (2007).
Furthermore, in determining whether service connection is warranted for a disability, VA is responsible for determining whether the evidence supports the claim or is in relative equipoise, with the Veteran prevailing in either event, or whether a preponderance of the evidence is against the claim, in which case the claim is denied. 38 U.S.C. § 5107; Gilbert v. Derwinski, 1 Vet. App. 49 (1990).
When there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence regarding any issue material to the determination of matter, the benefit of the doubt will be given to the Veteran. 38 U.S.C. § 5107 (b); 38 C.F.R. § 3.102.
Private treatment records indicate that the Veteran has undergone surgery to repair her right meniscus. See Hillsdale Community Health Center Treatment Record dated November 22, 2010. Thus, there is no dispute that the Veteran has a current disability.
However, the Board finds that service connection is not warranted for a right knee disability. The preponderance of the evidence shows that a right knee disability was not present during active duty. Additionally, the Veteran’s service treatment records do not show any complaints, treatment or diagnoses related to the right knee. 
There is no competent evidence of record indicating that the diagnosed right knee disability is due to any disease or injury from military service. Although the Veteran contends that she injured her right knee while marching with a heavy load during military service, the record does not include probative evidence linking her right knee disability to service. Furthermore, her lay opinion concerning this matter requiring medical expertise is not competent evidence of the alleged nexus. See Jandreau v. Nicholson, 492 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2007). The Board notes that the record contains no probative evidence in support of a relationship between the diagnosed right knee disability and the Veteran’s active duty service.  
As such, the preponderance of the evidence is against entitlement to service connection for a right knee disability. Reasonable doubt does not arise, and the benefit-of-the-doubt doctrine does not apply; the Veteran’s claim must be denied. 38 U.S.C. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. § 3.102. As there is no indication in the evidence that the knee disability is related to service beyond the Veteran’s assertion, there is no duty to provide the Veteran with a VA examination. McLendon v. Nicholson, 20 Vet. App. 79, 81 (2006); see 38 U.S.C. § 5103A (d)(2); 38 C.F.R. § 3.159 (c)(4)(i); see also Waters v. Shinseki, 601 F.3d 1274, 1278-79 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (distinguishing cases where only a conclusory generalized statement is provided by the veteran and rejecting the theory that medical examinations are to be routinely and virtually automatically provided to all veterans in disability cases involving nexus issues).  
Entitlement to service connection for a psychiatric disability is denied.
As with the knee disability claim, the Veteran’s STRs do not reflect any psychiatric complaints or treatment.  Post service records do not document any psychiatric treatment until years after service, and none of the records link a psychiatric disability to service.  For her part, the Veteran has expressed her view that her current disability is a result of a car accident while stationed at Fort Benning.  An in-service trauma could form the basis for service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder, however, that diagnosis has not been rendered, and the Veteran has not been shown to possess the medical expertise to provide a 


diagnosis or probative opinion on the cause of her claimed disability.  In these circumstances, the Board concludes that a psychiatric disability was not incurred in service.  
 
 MICHAEL E. KILCOYNE
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	Erin J. Trojanowski, Associate 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


Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.