Service connection for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy [GRANTED] Citation Nr: 18160603
Citation Nr: 18160603
Decision Date: 12/27/18 Archive Date: 12/27/18
DOCKET NO. 15-41 729
DATE: December 27, 2018
Service connection for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy is granted.
FINDING OF FACT
The Veteran’s current diagnosis of bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy was incurred while in service.
CONCLUSION OF LAW
With resolution of reasonable doubt in the Veteran’s favor, the criteria for entitlement to service connection for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy have been met. 38 U.S.C. § 5107 (2012); 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(d) (2018).
REASONS AND BASES FOR FINDING AND CONCLUSION
The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Army from August 1966 to August 1989. He had service in the Republic of Vietnam.
Bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy, to include as due to herbicide exposure and/or secondary to service-connected chronic lumbosacral strain
Service connection may be granted for any injury or disease diagnosed after discharge, when all the evidence, including that pertinent to service, establishes that the disease or injury was incurred in service. 38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d).
In December 2012, the Veteran requested service connection for radiculopathy secondary to service-connected chronic lumbosacral strain and for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy due to herbicide exposure. In the February 2013 VA rating decision on appeal, service connection for lumbar radiculopathy of the right and left lower extremities was granted and service connection for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy was denied. The Veteran perfected the issue on appeal for bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy.
During the course of the appeal, review of the evidentiary record shows the Veteran has a current diagnosis of bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy during the appeal period, as noted in VA Disability Benefits Questionnaire (DBQ) examination reports for peripheral nerves conditions dated in February 2013 and October 2018.
In a May 2016 private statement, Dr. D. G. noted treating and following the Veteran’s diagnosis of early-onset peripheral neuropathy secondary to the history of exposure to Agent Orange. Following an accurate review of the Veteran’s medical history, the private treating physician concluded it is as likely as not that the Veteran’s demyelinating peripheral neuropathy started during service in the early 1970s and has been persistent during the last 45 years. Dr. D. G. explained that review of the Veteran’s medical records shows an initial complaint of leg pain to medical personnel while in service was in April 1970 and recurred during the following 20 years during service. Her further explained the following:
In all cases, no definitive diagnosis was given. Prior to 2006, a diagnosis of demyelinating peripheral neuropathy was generally postmortem by clinical analysis. Given the inability of general physicians to correctly diagnose demyelinating peripheral neuropathy in the 70s and 80s while [the Veteran] was in the service, and given that symptoms may appear suddenly, progress rapidly, and resolve slowly as damaged nerves heal, [he] believe[s] that [the Veteran] had periods of relief followed by relapse. It appears that [the Veteran] reached a plateau stage where symptoms stayed the same for years. [The Veteran’s] post military retirement career as a software engineer and manager would preclude all likely, known causes of demyelinating peripheral neuropathy during that period.
There is no probative contrary medical opinion of record. In fact, the Board notes that the February 2013 VA examiner provided a medical opinion (in the negative) for demyelinating neuropathy on a secondary basis for causation to the service-connected chronic lumbosacral strain. Most recently, the October 2018 VA examiner affirmed the Veteran’s diagnosis of demyelinating peripheral neuropathy; however, no medical opinion was provided regarding the etiology of the diagnosed disability.
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For the reasons and bases discussed above and after resolving all reasonable doubt in favor of the Veteran, the Board finds that the Veteran’s current bilateral demyelinating peripheral neuropathy was incurred while in service, thus service connection is warranted. See 38 U.S.C. § 5107; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303(d).
D. Martz Ames
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD T. Carter, Counsel