Perciavalle v. McDonough, No. 22-1491 (Fed. Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Perciavalle, serving in the Army from 1962-1964, injured his knee, which required surgery. The VA awarded Perciavalle a 10 percent disability for medial menisectomy under Diagnostic Code (DC) 5259 for “[c]artilage, semilunar, removal of, symptomatic.” In 1971, Perciavalle underwent another orthopedic examination. The VA did not increase Perciavalle’s disability rating. Perciavalle did not appeal. In 2015, Perciavalle requested a reopening of the 1971 rating decision for clear and unmistakable error (CUE), claiming that he was entitled to two separate disability ratings, one for slight instability of the knee under DC 52571 and another based on the 1971 examination for limitation of motion of flexion and discomfort secondary to arthritis under DC 5003-5260. Perciavalle argued that the 1971 x-ray “clearly show[ed] degenerative changes” as compared to the 1966 examination. The regulations allowed for the combination of two or more disability ratings, but stated that the evaluation of the same disability under various diagnoses is to be avoided.
The Veterans Court affirmed the Board of Veterans’ Appeal’s denial of Perciavalle’s claim. The Federal Circuit vacated in part. The Board incorrectly interpreted Perciavalle’s CUE claim. Perciavalle’s CUE claim set forth the relevant facts and regulations. Under a sympathetic reading of that claim, the VA was required to “determine all potential claims raised by the evidence, applying all relevant laws and regulations.”