Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spicer v. Shinseki

Spicer v. Shinseki, 752 F.3d 1367 (May 30, 2014)
DC 5003, 38 C.F.R. § 4.45(f), MINOR JOINT GROUP DEFINED
Held: For the purpose of rating disabilities from arthritis, a minor joint group is affected only when two or more joints suffer from limitation of motion.

Veteran was service connected for degenerative arthritis of the DIP joint of his little finger, and rated 0%. VA denied a compensable rating. Veteran appealed to the CAVC and on to the Federal Circuit, arguing that “degenerative arthritis in a single DIP joint results in a ‘group of minor joints affected by limitation of motion’ and can entitle a veteran to 10% rating under DC 5003.” The veteran argued that a minor joint group is affected when one member of that joint group is affected – just as when two or more members of the joint group are affected. The Federal Circuit held that under the plain language of DC 5003, read in the context of 38 C.F.R. § 4.45(f), the CAVC “did not err in interpreting DC 5003 to require limitation of motion in more than one minor joint.”

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