Veterans Law Legal Update: Beraud v. McDonald, 766 F.3d 1402 (Fed. Cir. 2014)

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation, Legal Update

Legal Update

 

In September 2014, the Federal Circuit decided Beraud v. McDonald, carving out an exception to the general rule that a “subsequent final adjudication of a claim which is identical to a pending claim that has not been finally adjudicated terminates the pending status of the earlier claim.” Now, under Beraud, when a veteran submits evidence to the VA within the appeal period of a rating decision, the VA must make a determination as to whether the evidence constitutes “new and material evidence,” or the claim remains pending until such determination is made. Notably, the claim remains pending even if there have been subsequent final decisions on the same claim.

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Service Connection for Tinnitus Without Accompanying Hearing Loss?

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation

Inner Ear Diagram

It’s very common for veterans to suffer from tinnitus without accompanying hearing loss. Unfortunately, when a veteran submits a claim for service connection for tinnitus without hearing loss, VA examiners will often render a negative nexus opinion that goes something like this:

“Although the veteran served in a high hazardous noise MOS, the veteran has bilaterally normal hearing indicating intact cochlear function. Therefore, the veteran’s reported tinnitus is less likely than not caused by military noise exposure.” 

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VA Releases Final Rule on Standardized Claims and Appeals Forms

Gregory M. Rada Disability Compensation

The VA amended its regulations today introducing a uniform disability claims form that VA says will allow it to better service veterans. The new rule goes into effect beginning March 25, 2014, and includes three major changes:

  1. Requirement that all VA benefits claims (pension, compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation, and monetary burial benefits) be filed on VA’s standardized claims form
  2. Requirement that all VA compensation appeals (notice of disagreement or NOD) be filed on a standardized NOD form
  3. Elimination and replacement of the “informal claims process” with a new “intent to file process”

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