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Inextricably Intertwined and Boyd Decision

Here’s another interesting case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

On August 5, 2014, the Court issued a decision in Boyd v. McDonald which explores whether the Board of Veterans Appeals may separately adjudicate claims that the Court viewed as inextricably intertwined.

What does inextricably intertwined mean and are my claims inextricably intertwined?  The answer is actually simple: you have claims that are inextricably intertwined if you have two or more claims that the decision of one claim depends on the decision of another claim.

For example, suppose you are making a claim for service connection for an asbestos-related condition that was incurred in service and you are also making a claim for TDIU because you cannot work.  If the VA denies your claim for service connection of the asbestos-related condition, your claim for TDIU is going to be denied too if you have no other basis for making that claim.  So, your claims for service-connection and TDIU are “inextricably intertwined.”

In its decision, the Court says that the Board may decide your claims separately.

The Court also decided that the Board has the authority to issue separate decisions on your claims without providing advance notice that it would do so.

The take-away from this case is that a veteran and veterans advocates need to be aware of which claims are being decided by the Board and to monitor the implications those decision have with respect to other pending claims.  In certain cases, separate decisions will have impact on your appeal deadlines so you’ll want to pay special attention if you disagree with the Board’s decisions.

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