Citation Nr: 18160543
Decision Date: 12/27/18	Archive Date: 12/27/18

DOCKET NO. 17-13 202
DATE:	December 27, 2018
Entitlement to service connection for tinnitus is granted.
In giving the benefit of the doubt to the Veteran, the Board finds that service connection is warranted for tinnitus.
The criteria for service connection for tinnitus have been met. 38 U.S.C. §§ 1110, 5107; 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.102, 3.303, 3.307, 3.309.
The Veteran served on active duty from August 1991 to October 1998.
This matter is before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) on appeal from a June 2016 rating decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO) in San Diego, California. 
Service connection may be granted for a disability resulting from a disease or injury incurred in or aggravated by active service. See 38 U.S.C. § 1110. In cases of tinnitus, ringing in the ears is capable of lay observation, and as such a Veteran is able to ascertain that he has the disability of tinnitus.  See Charles v. Principi, 16 Vet. App. 370 (2002).  
In this case, the Veteran asserts in his July 2016 Notice of Disagreement (NOD) that he has ringing in his ears resulting from active service. VA treatment records from January 2016 reveal that the Veteran raised concerns about tinnitus during a VA audiological evaluation. The audiologist noted that the Veteran was “extremely bothered by ringing tinnitus that he reports began when he served in the military after exposure to noise from aircraft.” The Veteran subsequently underwent a VA hearing examination in May 2016. The VA audiologist’s report notes that the Veteran reported recurrent tinnitus; however, the Veteran “could not speculate as to when tinnitus onset.” The audiologist opined that the Veteran’s tinnitus is less likely than not caused by the result of military noise exposure. As the rationale for that opinion, the audiologist noted that the Veteran “was monitored by hearing conservation program during service, and no positive significant threshold shifts were observed in audiograms performed.” In addition, the “Veteran reported a history of post-military occupational noise exposure, which is a factor.”  
Nevertheless, as to noise exposure during service, the Veteran’s DD Form 214 revealed that his military occupational specialty (MOS) was aviation electricians mate, which was highly probable for hazardous noise exposure. Service treatment records from October 1997 confirm that the Veteran worked on the flight line. Moreover, the Veteran has consistently reported the onset of tinnitus to have been caused by his exposure to military noise. Indeed, in his March 2017 Form 9, the Veteran asserted his tinnitus was related to the acoustic trauma he suffered during active service, a fact to which the VA audiologist seemingly gave no weight.   
Given the above, and affording the Veteran the benefit of the doubt on key elements of the claim, the Board finds that the Veteran’s tinnitus was incurred as due to service, and that service connection for such a disability is warranted. See Charles, supra. Accordingly, the appeal in this matter is granted.
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	B. Banks, Associate Counsel 

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