In a very brief unpublished opinion, the Second Circuit upheld a denial of Defense Base Act benefits. The court summarized the dispute and outcome as follows:
Khan argues the ALJ failed to apply the presumption of 33 U.S.C. § 920(a) to his disability claim. The ALJ correctly applied the presumption in determining whether Khan suffered from a work-related injury. However, the § 920(a) presumption does not apply in determining whether any disability was caused or aggravated by a particular work-related injury. A separate burden-shifting scheme governs that inquiry. See Pietrunti v. Dir., Office of Workers’ Comp. Programs, 119 F.3d 1035, 1038 (2d Cir. 1997); Palombo v. Dir., Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, 937 F.2d 70, 73 (2d Cir. 1991). Under that scheme, the employee must first establish that the disability was caused by a work-related injury. See Palombo, 937 F.2d at 73. Here, the ALJ reviewed the entirety of the record and found the report by Doctor Brief to be more credible than the one provided by Doctor Singh as to causation. Therefore, the BRB committed no error of law and the ALJ’s findings were supported by substantial evidence. See Pietrunti, 119 F.2d at 1042 (“Credibility findings of an ALJ are entitled to great deference and therefore can be reversed only if they are patently unreasonable.” (quotation marks omitted)).
For those interested in reviewing the Benefits Review Board’s opinion, click this link.