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If a rating decision lists in “Favorable finding identified in this decision ” that “… opined that chronic L5-S1 disc degeneration & bilateral lower extremity sciatica are more likely than not less secondary connected (due to abnormal gait caused by service connected left ankle disability)”, then doesn’t this mean the Rating Decision awards secondary service connection?
M21-1, III, iv, 2, B, 5 – Favorable Findings states:
III.iv.2.B.5.a. Definition: Favorable Finding
As stated in 38 CFR 3.104(c), a favorable finding means a conclusion either on a question of fact or on an application of law to facts made by an adjudicator concerning the issue(s) under review.
Reference: For more information on findings of fact and conclusions of law, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 5.A.1.c.
38 CFR § 3.104 Binding nature of decisions.
(a) Binding decisions. A decision of a VA rating agency is binding on all VA field offices as to conclusions based on the evidence on file at the time VA issues written notification in accordance with 38 U.S.C. 5104. A binding agency decision is not subject to revision except by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, by Federal court order, or as provided in §§ 3.105, 3.2500, and 3.2600.
(b) Binding administrative determinations. Current determinations of line of duty, character of discharge, relationship, dependency, domestic relations questions, homicide, and findings of fact of death or presumptions of death made in accordance with existing instructions, and by application of the same criteria and based on the same facts, by either an Adjudication activity or an Insurance activity are binding one upon the other in the absence of clear and unmistakable error.
(c) Favorable findings. Any finding favorable to the claimant made by either a VA adjudicator, as described in § 3.103(f)(4), or by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, as described in § 20.801(a) of this chapter, is binding on all subsequent agency of original jurisdiction and Board of Veterans’ Appeals adjudicators, unless rebutted by evidence that identifies a clear and unmistakable error in the favorable finding. For purposes of this section, a finding means a conclusion either on a question of fact or on an application of law to facts made by an adjudicator concerning the issue(s) under review.
[29 FR 1462, Jan. 29, 1964, as amended at 29 FR 7547, June 12, 1964; 56 FR 65846, Dec. 19, 1991; 66 FR 21874, May 2, 2001; 84 FR 167, Jan. 18, 2019]
M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, 5.A.1.c Definitions: Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law
Findings of fact are the true facts that a decision maker finds to exist after the analysis of all evidence of record. Findings of fact are necessary to making the conclusions of law.
Conclusions of law are the ultimate determinations made regarding whether key governing substantive and/or procedural legal requirements defined by the claim are proven. Every legal conclusion depends on finding certain facts.
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If a rating decision lists in Favorable finding identified in this decision that ... opined that chronic L5-S1 disc degeneration & bilateral lower extremity sciatica are more likely than not less secondary connected (due to abnormal gait caused by service connected left ankle disability), th...