Citation Nr: 18160356
Decision Date: 12/26/18	Archive Date: 12/26/18

DOCKET NO. 16-51 614
DATE:	December 26, 2018
REMANDED
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
REASONS FOR REMAND
The Veteran had active service from November 1968 to November 1972. 
This matter comes before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (Board) from a June 2013 rating decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office (RO).   
The Veteran and his representative appeared before the undersigned Veterans Law Judge in a July 2018 videoconference hearing.  A transcript of that hearing has been associated with the record.
Entitlement to service connection for bilateral hearing loss is remanded.
The Veteran contends that his current bilateral hearing loss was caused by noise exposure during active duty in the course of his duties as a jet engine technician.
At his July 1968 preinduction examination, audiometric testing, apparently using the using ISO-ANSI standards, showed puretone thresholds, in decibels, for the frequencies of 500, 1000, 2000 and 4000 Hertz as follows:  for the right ear, 5, 0, 5, 30 and for the left ear, 0, 0, 5, 15.  
In-service treatment records show that in April 1972, the Veteran underwent a reference audiogram in light of his noise exposure on the flight line.  At that time, significant threshold shifts were recorded, to include 50 decibels for the 4000 Hertz frequency in the right ear and 45 and 55 for the 3000 and 4000 Hertz frequencies in the left ear.
The Veteran’s September 1972 separation examination report shows that audiometric testing at that time revealed threshold shifts since his July 1968 preinduction examination, but showed that he did not exhibit a hearing loss disability under section 3.385.    
In connection with the Veteran’s claim of service connection, the Veteran submitted a May 2014 private audiogram which shows that he has a current hearing loss disability for VA purposes.
VA thereafter obtained a medical opinion in May 2013 regarding the etiology of the Veteran’s hearing loss.  The audiologist concluded that it was less likely than not that the Veteran’s current hearing loss was related to in-service noise exposure because the Veteran had a preexisting hearing loss at entry which had not been aggravated during service nor did the separation examination exhibit a standard threshold shift.  The Board finds the examination inadequate as the examiner failed to address the significant threshold shifts exhibited by the Veteran during service.  
The matter is REMANDED for the following action:
Schedule the Veteran for an examination to determine the nature and etiology of his current bilateral hearing loss.  Access to the Veteran’s electronic claims file must be made available to the examiner for review in connection with the examination.  
After examining the Veteran and reviewing the record, the examiner should provide an opinion, with supporting rationale, as to whether it is at least as likely as not that the Veteran’s current hearing loss had its inception during active duty, was manifest to a compensable degree within one year of separation from active duty, or is otherwise related to an in-service injury disease, including documented noise exposure as a jet engine mechanic.  
The examiner must address the relevant evidence of record in providing his or her opinion, to include the in-service audiograms documenting significant threshold shifts during active duty.    
The examiner should note that the absence of evidence of bilateral hearing loss at service separation should not serve as the sole basis for a negative opinion.

 
K. Conner
Veterans Law Judge
Board of Veterans’ Appeals
ATTORNEY FOR THE BOARD	H. Yun, Associate Counsel

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