Hudgens v. McDonald, No. 15-7030 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Hudgens injured his right knee while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army. In 2003, Hudgens had partial knee replacement surgery; in 2006, he sought VA benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals denied him a disability rating of greater than 10 percent for degenerative joint disease in the right knee and denied him entitlement to a compensable disability rating for instability in the right knee for a prior time period. The Veterans Court vacated those decisions; held that Hudgens was not entitled to compensation for his prosthetic knee replacement under 38 C.F.R. 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5055; and remanded for determination of whether his knee replacement could be rated by analogy to that code. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that Hudgens may be compensated under DC 5055 based on his partial knee replacement. Hudgens’s interpretation of DC 5055 is consistent with the beneficence inherent in the veterans’ benefits scheme and with the majority of Board decisions that have interpreted the regulation.