Citation Nr: 18160696
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/27/18

DOCKET NO. 15-07 746
DATE:	December 27, 2018
Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is granted.
The Veteran’s tinnitus manifested to a compensable degree within one year of his separation from service and is not attributable to intercurrent causes.
The criteria for entitlement to service connection for tinnitus are met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1112, 1113, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(b), 3.307, 3.309(a).
The Veteran served on active duty from May 1989 to May 1993. This matter is on appeal from a May 2011 rating decision of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO). 
In a March 2015 Form 9, Appeal to Board of Veterans’ Appeals, the Veteran requested a videoconference hearing for his appeal. The Veteran was scheduled to appear at a hearing in September 2015, but requested a postponement. Although the hearing was never rescheduled, the Veteran is not prejudiced by the Board proceeding with the claim of service connection for tinnitus without providing him an opportunity to appear at a hearing since the benefit is being granted.
The Veteran also appealed a claim seeking service connection for ulcerative colitis and requested to appear at a hearing before the Board. The Veteran requested to reschedule the September 2015 hearing. As a hearing has not yet been rescheduled, that issue will be decided in a later Board decision after a hearing is conducted.
Service Connection for Tinnitus
The Veteran contends that he is entitled to service connection for tinnitus. 
Service connection will be granted if the evidence demonstrates that a current disability resulted from an injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by active military service. 38 U.S.C. § 1110; 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(a). Establishing service connection generally requires competent evidence of three things: (1) a current disability; (2) in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury; and (3) a causal relationship, i.e., a nexus, between the current disability and an in-service precipitating disease, injury or event. Fagan v. Shinseki, 573 F.3d 1282, 1287 (Fed. Cir. 2009); 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(a).
Where a Veteran served for at least 90 days during a period of war or after December 31, 1946, and manifests certain chronic diseases, including organic diseases of the nervous system, to a degree of 10 percent within one year from the date of termination of such service, such disease shall be presumed to have been incurred or aggravated in service, even though there is no evidence of such disease during the period of service. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1101, 1112, 1113; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.307, 3.309. 
In the present case, the Board finds that the Veteran has tinnitus, which, as an organic disease of the nervous system, is a chronic disease listed in 38 C.F.R.        § 3.309(a). In May 2012 correspondence, the Veteran reported having tinnitus that manifested with auditory problems involving ringing, whooshing, and bass sounds. The Veteran is competent to describe and self-diagnose tinnitus, as the manifestations of the condition are readily observable to even a lay person.  Layno v. Brown, 6 Vet. App. 465 (1994); Barr v. Nicholson, 21 Vet. App. 303, 309 (2007). 
The record reflects that the Veteran’s tinnitus manifested to a compensable degree within one year of separation. A compensable evaluation is warranted for recurrent tinnitus whether the sound is perceived in one ear, both ears, or in the head. 38 C.F.R. § 4.87, DC 6260 (Note (2)). A July 1993 VA audiological evaluation shows that the Veteran reported having periodic ringing tinnitus mainly in the left ear for two years. He described it as faint in loudness. During the July 1993 examination, the Veteran stated that he believed it was caused by his exposure to “gunfire, explosions, jet engine noise, and heavy equipment.” This statement is corroborated by the Veteran’s DD-214, which notes that the Veteran served in the Southwest Asia theater of operations as a ground surveillance systems operator and that he obtained a Marksman Badge for his service.
The evidence is at least in equipoise as to whether the Veteran has tinnitus that first manifested to a compensable degree within a year of separation. Accordingly, service connection for tinnitus is granted. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 1112, 1113, 5107(b); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(b), 3.307, 3.309(a).
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	M. H. White, Associate Counsel 

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