A new decision out of the Federal Circuit reversed a decision from the lower court that had dismissed a veteran’s CUE claim. The decision is Larson v. Shinseki, No. 2013-7060, and it was decided on March 10, 2014.
Larson v. Shinseki
In the grand scheme of things, the Federal Circuit’s decision is not ground-shaking. It simply reestablishes that a veteran who wants to challenge a previous Board decision as containing CUE must bring all of these CUE arguments at the same time, but a veteran who wants to challenge a previous RO decision as containing CUE can bring his arguments in a piecemeal fashion.
If you’re having trouble understanding what that all means, you’re not alone. Oftentimes our office receives inquiries about filing CUE claims. These claims are almost always highly complex. The benefit is that CUE claims often open the door to a large retroactive payout.
What Does “CUE” Mean?
CUE means “clear and unmistakable error.” It refers to a veteran’s attempt to attack a final VA decision (either a Board decision or a regional office decision). Generally, a veteran is not permitted to attack a final VA decision, but if he can prove that the decision contains CUE, he is entitled to back benefits to the date he originally filed his claim. So if a veteran filed a claim for PTSD in 1970, and a 1971 regional office decision denied the claim, the veteran could win back benefits to 1970 (the date of the original claim) if he can prove the 1971 regional office decision contained CUE. That would be over 40 years of back benefits!
Truthfully, correctly identifying CUE in an old decision requires a high level of legal acumen. In many cases, it requires knowing what the law was many, many years ago. CUE is relatively rare but veterans should be aware that there is a valid avenue for attacking final VA decisions.
Did Your Decision from the VA Include CUE?
If you suspect your decision from the VA was based on clear and unmistakable error, I encourage you to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in veterans’ disability claims. Proving CUE can be difficult, and can hinge on a careful analysis of previous law. We welcome you to contact us for a free case evaluation.