Citation Nr: 18160460
Decision Date: 12/26/18	Archive Date: 12/26/18

DOCKET NO. 17-06 276
DATE:	December 26, 2018
REMANDED
Entitlement to service connection for a right hip disorder, to include residuals of a right hip dislocation, is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran served on active duty in the United States Air Force from December 1988 to August 2013.  A hearing was not requested.  

1. Entitlement to service connection for a hip disorder is remanded.
A new examination is required that assesses whether the Veteran’s right hip pain “reaches the level of a functional impairment of earning capacity.”  Saunders v. Wilkie, 886 F.3d 1356, 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2018).  
The Veteran experiences right hip pain.  See November 2016 VA hip examination; June 2013 claim form.  He argues that this pain is the result of dislocating his right hip while teaching combat skills at the Air Force Academy.  See September 2011 service treatment records (pages 68–73 of 79).  The November 2016 VA hip examination indicates right hip functional loss manifested as “[m]oderate limitation of functional endurance” and states that the Veteran’s ability to perform occupational tasks is impacted by “[m]oderate functional limitation with prolonged standing, walking and sitting.”  
The November 2016 VA examiner records the Veteran’s statements about right hip pain but opines that the Veteran does not have a current right hip disorder because there is no limitation of motion and no pain on motion.  The RO denied entitlement to service connection on the basis of this opinion.  
Regarding the “current disability” element of service connection, “pain need not be diagnosed as connected to a current underlying condition to function as an impairment.”  Saunders, 886 F.3d at 1364.  Rather, “[t]o establish the presence of a disability, a veteran will need to show that [their] pain reaches the level of a functional impairment of earning capacity.”  Id. at 1367–68.  In light of Saunders, a new VA examination and opinion are required.  

The matter is REMANDED for the following action:

Provide an examination and obtain a medical opinion regarding the nature and etiology of any current or previously-diagnosed right hip disorder, to include residuals of a right hip dislocation.  The examiner should review the entire claims file, conduct all necessary tests and studies, and provide the requested opinions: 

(a.) Whether the Veteran has any current or previously-diagnosed right hip disorder, to include residuals of a right hip dislocation.
(b.) Whether it is at least as likely as not (a 50 percent or better probability) that any current or previously-diagnosed right hip disorder, to include residuals of a right hip dislocation, was incurred in the Veteran’s service, including but not limited to his September 2011 right hip dislocation.  In rendering this opinion, the examiner should consider the September 2011 service treatment records (pages 68 to 73 of 79) indicating a right hip dislocation.  
(c.) Whether the Veteran has experienced any post-service right hip dislocations that are at least as likely as not related to the September 2011 right hip dislocation.  
(d.) If the Veteran does not have a current diagnosis for right hip disorder, to include residuals of a right hip dislocation, is the Veteran’s right hip pain characterized by pain?  If yes, offer the following opinions: (i) does the Veteran’s right hip pain reach the level of functional impairment of earning capacity, and if so (ii) is it at least as likely as not (a 50 percent or better probability) that any right hip pain that reaches the level of functional impairment of earning capacity was incurred in the Veteran’s service.  In rendering these opinions, the examiner should indicate Veteran’s current job duties and the extent to which any right hip pain affects the Veteran’s abilities to fulfill these job duties.   
The examiner should provide a complete rationale for any opinions offered.  If the examiner is unable to provide any requested opinion without resort to speculation, he or she should explain why this is so.
 
Michael J. Skaltsounis
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	B. Cannon, 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

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