Citation Nr: 18160565
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/27/18

DOCKET NO. 17-02 129
DATE:	December 27, 2018
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is remanded.
The Veteran served on active duty from December 1964 to August 1966.
This case is before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal from a March 2016 rating decision of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional office.
1. Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is remanded.
2. Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
The Veteran is seeking service connection for bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus. 
The Veteran reported that she worked in a printing plant during active service. She noted that there was a lot of noise and her DD Form 214 reflects a Military Journalism course and a military occupational specialty of administrative manager. See February 2016 VA treatment record and September 2017 Statement of Accredited Representative in Appealed Case. 
The Veteran’s service treatment records show that at her entrance physical in December 1964, audiological testing showed normal whispered voice test results. A January 1965 Group Screening Audiogram reflects audiological testing conducted on the Veteran during service. There was no separation examination available. 
The Veteran was diagnosed with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus on a March 2016 VA Hearing Loss and Tinnitus examination. The examiner indicated that a medical opinion as to the etiology of the Veteran’s hearing loss and tinnitus could not be provided without resort to speculation. It was noted that the Veteran’s medical record did not provide enough information to formulate an opinion without resorting to speculation. 
In this case, the Board notes that the law and regulations applicable to the Veteran’s claim do not require in-service complaints of or treatment for hearing loss in order to establish service connection. See Ledford v. Derwinski, 3 Vet. App. 87, 89 (1992). Instead, evidence of a current hearing loss disability (i.e., one meeting the requirements of 38 C.F.R. § 3.385) and a medically sound basis for attributing such disability to service may serve as a basis for a grant of service connection for hearing loss. Hensley v. Brown, 5 Vet. App. 155, 159 (1993). The record reflects that during service the Veteran worked in a printing plant and was exposed to excessive noise. 
Based on the above, the Board finds the March 2016 examination inadequate to adjudicate the issue on appeal. VA’s duty to assist a claimant includes providing a medical examination or obtaining a medical opinion when an examination or opinion is necessary to make a decision on the claim. 38 U.S.C. § 5103A(d)(1) (2012); 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(c)(4) (2018). To that end, when VA undertakes to provide a VA examination, it must ensure that the examination is adequate. See Barr v. Nicholson, 21 Vet. App. 303, 312 (2007).
The matters are REMANDED for the following action:
1. Copies of updated pertinent treatment records should be obtained and added to the claims file.
2. Following completion of the above, schedule the Veteran for an appropriate VA examination to determine the etiology of any currently diagnosed bilateral hearing loss and tinnitus. A complete history should be obtained from the Veteran. The examiner should review the claims folder and acknowledge such review in the examination report.
3. The examiner should provide an opinion as to whether it is at least as likely as not (50 percent or greater probability) that the currently diagnosed bilateral hearing loss and/or tinnitus are the result of noise exposure or other injury or disease in active service. 
A complete rationale should be given for all opinions and conclusions expressed. 
The examiner is advised that the appellant is competent to report injuries and symptoms, and that her reports must be considered in formulating the requested opinions. If her reports are discounted, the examiner should provide a reason for doing so. 
If the examiner cannot provide an opinion without resort to speculation, the examiner should provide an explanation as to why this is so and note what, if any, 
additional evidence would permit such an opinion to be made.
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	T. Grzeczkowicz, Associate Counsel

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