Hampton v. McDonough, No. 22-1359 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Hampton served in the Navy from 1985-1989. In 1997, she filed a claim for VA disability compensation for migraines. In 1998, the regional office (RO) increased Hampton’s rating to 30 percent, effective from 1997. In 1999, Hampton applied for a total disability rating based on individual unemployability (TDIU) effective from 1997 due to “migraine[s], bladder, [and] reflux.” The RO denied TDIU. Hampton never filed a notice of disagreement but filed a new claim for increased compensation based on migraines. This claim was denied in 1999; Hampton filed a notice of disagreement. In 2000, the Board affirmed the RO. In 2003, Hampton filed a new claim for increased compensation and a second TDIU application. The Board ultimately granted Hampton TDIU, effective from 2003. Hampton argued that her 1999 TDIU claim was still pending because she submitted additional evidence within the one-year appeal window but never received a determination. The Board denied entitlement to an earlier effective date, finding that the 1999 TDIU claim was not still pending when Hampton filed her 2003 claims.
The Veterans Court and Federal Circuit affirmed; 38 CFR 3.156(b) does not require the VA to explicitly state whether submitted evidence is new and material to a claim, where that claim is implicitly denied after consideration of the evidence. The Board’s 2020 decision, by finding the 2000 decision an implicit denial of TDIU, was not making a new and material evidence determination in the first instance. The RO did so in 1999.