Frazier v. McDonough, No. 22-1184 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Frazier served in the Navy from 1988-1993. In 2008, Frazier fractured the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand after being startled by a nightmare--according to Frazier, a frequent occurrence due to PTSD, a disability for which Frazier had been awarded service connection. The VA's examining physician noted that Frazier experienced pain in his right hand and that the injury was secondary to his PTSD but that the pain “does not result in/cause functional loss.” The Board of Veterans Appeals granted Frazier service connection for the injury; the regional office assigned a noncompensable rating for that injury,
The Federal Circuit affirmed, rejecting Frazier’s argument that he was entitled to a compensable rating of 10 percent under 38 C.F.R. 4.59. That regulation provides: The intent of the schedule is to recognize painful motion with joint or periarticular pathology as productive of disability. It is the intention to recognize actually painful, unstable, or malaligned joints, due to healed injury, as entitled to at least the minimum compensable rating for the joint. Frazier cited Diagnostic Codes 5219 and 5223, which provide 20 percent and 10 percent ratings, respectively, for unfavorable and favorable ankylosis of the ring and little fingers. The Board properly focused on Diagnostic Code 5230, which provides for a zero percent rating for limitations of motion in the little or ring fingers. Section 4.59 does not “create a freestanding painful motion disability that is always entitled to a 10% disability rating” and Frazier did not have ankylosis.