This Veteran suffered a fall after joining the Navy in the early 1950’s.
Result: Service connection was awarded when the Veteran was nearly 80 years of age.
During boot camp at Great Lakes this Veteran fell from a rope during training exercises. He fell on the right side of his lower back. He complained of some muscle pain in the area of the right flank. He saw a corpsman who essentially said it was muscle strain, but the problem did not go away. It continued to plague the Veteran during his career in the Navy.
Not wanting to be known as a complainer, the Veteran tried to deal with the pain without saying anything. As a result, his service medical records contained very little reference to any problems. What the records showed was muscle strain after boxing. After getting out of the service in the mid 1950s the Veteran continued to have problems. He began filing claims with VA. The VA denied his claims. Years passed. He filed more claims, which were denied. By the 1960s he went to the hospital with blood in his urine. They examined him and said he had the congenital absence of a right kidney. By the early 1990s ultrasound had been invented, and an ultrasound revealed a non-functioning right kidney with an enlarged left kidney.
What had happened was the fall at the age of 17 injured his right kidney and damaged it. It eventually stopped functioning. But now he had the daunting task of trying to prove that this was related to service when there was no documentation in the service medical records of a problem with the kidney. The service records, at best, showed a muscle strain following a boxing match. The Veteran again filed his claim in the 1990s. This time, VA provided him with a C&P exam. The VA examiner actually sided with the Veteran. The VA doctor concluded that the enlargement of the left kidney indicated that he suffered a trauma to the right kidney during his teen years.
Even though the C&P examiner said the condition was service-connected, the Board denied the claim again. The Board reasoned that there was no proof that anything happened in the service. This time, the Veteran appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and hired us to help him.
We were able to get the case overturned on appeal and sent back to the Board. We hired a top medical expert to review the file. He concluded that the pain in the area of the right flank corresponded to the anatomical position of the right kidney. He also explained that the enlargement of the left kidney indicated that the injury occurred no later than the late teen years. The doctor pointed out that the pain in the area of the right kidney was documented in the service. The Board re-decided the case, but remanded it back to the regional office to obtain another C&P exam.
We became concerned that the VA examiner would give an unfavorable opinion, which the VA would then rely on to deny the claim. So we hired a second medical expert who reached the same conclusion as our first medical expert. We filed numerous additional arguments. The VA scheduled the Veteran for a C&P exam. We obtained a copy of the C&P exam report and it was favorable. We filed our final arguments with the regional office. We waited for almost 2 years until finally, the VA granted service connection. The Veteran was now almost 80 years old. He had finally been recognized for an injury that happened when he was 17 years old, for which he had suffered his entire adult life.