Saunders v United States

Saunders v United States 2018-04-12

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This case is very important. First, as far as its impact, it is a decision of a three judge case before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This is a court above the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (and one level of judicial review below the US Supreme Court). This case may be appealed to the Supreme Court, but, for now, this case is binding law.

As far as substance, it is HUGE. The reason for this is two-fold. First, it impacts a huge number of cases. Second, it states that:

"For these reasons, we find that "disability" in § 1110 refers to the functional impairment of earning capacity, not the underlying cause of said disability."

Saunders v. Wilkie, No. 2017-1466, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8467, at *17 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 3, 2018)

"We hold that the Veterans Court erred as a matter of law in holding that pain alone, without an accompanying diagnosis or identifiable condition, cannot constitute a "disability" under § 1110, because pain in the absence of a presently-diagnosed condition can cause functional impairment."
Saunders v. Wilkie, No. 2017-1466, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8467, at *28 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 3, 2018)

This case has huge implications for cases where a member's pain alone is not considered a basis for compensation.
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Jason Perry
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