Tests You Need To Get A Va Rating For Hearing Loss
To assign your VA disability rating, an audiologist may perform controlled speech discrimination and puretone audiometry tests in both ears. The VA uses both tests determine a single disability percentage rating for your hearing loss. Heres a quick overview of what each test does and how the potential results determine your VA disability rating:
Important: Not every veteran needs a controlled speech discrimination test. If that test doesnt help the VA rate your hearing impairment, then they wont ask for it.
Things To Prove In A Va Disability For Hearing Loss Claim Or Appeal
There are 3 things you must prove to establish service connection in any VA disability claim, but as you will see, the VA makes it particularly hard to prove a hearing loss disability is related to military service.
The first hurdle you have to cross is proving that your hearing loss is a disability.
The second hurdle you have to clear is demonstrating that it your hearing loss is related to your military service.
And the third hurdle you have to cross is establishing a VA hearing loss rating. That is, you have to show that your hearing loss is substantial enough to warrant an impairment rating. A lot can be said about the way the VA rates hearing loss, but that is not what this post is about.
This post is about the first hurdle proving that your hearing loss is a VA disability.
Causes Of Hearing Loss
The ear consists of three major areas .
When sound waves pass through the outer ear it causes vibrations which are amplified as they travel through the inner ear.
The nerve cells in your ears contain thousands of tiny hairs that help translate sound vibrations into electrical signals.
Then, these electrical signals are transmitted to your brain where it processes the signals into sound.
Hearing loss generally occurs when the ears are exposed to loud machinery or explosions over a long duration of time.
Additionally, the inevitable factor of age slowly erodes away at our hearing like other senses in the body.
Hearing loss can begin for a number of reasons yet is often attributed to damage in one or more parts of the ear.
Moreover, it can be the result of an ear infection, abnormal bone growths, ruptured eardrum, or tumors.
In the best-case scenario, removing excess earwax can sometimes remedy the problem if the damage isnt permanent.
Unfortunately, most service members are unable to avoid long-term exposure to loud noises because of the occupation.
With that said, you can take precautions by using hearing protection.
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What Percentage Does The Va Typically Compensate For Hearing Loss
While the U.S. Armed Forces recognizes hearing loss as one of its most prevalent service-connected medical conditions, the VA ratings are not stellar.
The typical disability ratings for hearing loss range from 0 10%.
In other words, the average disability rating will likely not cover the inconvenience and hassle of hearing impairment issues.
Nonetheless, additional services like hearing aids and service animals may supplement where monthly disability income is not sufficient.
Those that suffer from more severe types of hearing loss can receive a much higher VA rating than 0 10%.
It really depends on a case by case basis which is why you should schedule a hearing examination with a VA clinic as soon as possible.
What If I Disagree With A Decision
If you do not agree with the WorkSafeBC decision, you have the right to request a review. You must request a review within 90 days. If you disagree with the Review Division decision you have 30 days to file an appeal to the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal.
This factsheet has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not a legal document. Please refer to the Workers Compensation Actand the Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual Volume I and Volume II for purposes of interpretation and application of the law.
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What Other Benefits Can I Receive For Hearing Loss
Service members are required to meet with a VA audiologist in order to diagnose a medical condition.
After a series of tests are conducted, the VA can help determine if you are entitled to disability benefits.
Veterans that suffer from hearing loss rely on monthly compensation to treat their condition.
Hearing aids and other hearing supported devices are often available to patients.
Furthermore, service animals have been successful in assisting veterans with a variety of medical conditions, including hearing loss.
However, you cannot receive any of these services until you get evaluated by a VA audiologist.
An Attorney Could Help You Pursue Veterans Hearing Loss And Tinnitus Claims
A condition that leaves you with a reduced ability to hear or a ringing in your ears may be the result of a head injury, a single exposure to loud noise, or persistent exposure to moderate noise. If this exposure occurred while you were on active duty and has a negative effect on your current quality of life, you might qualify for VA disability compensation benefits.
An experienced lawyer could help you gather the necessary evidence to pursue a claim and assist you with filing the case. If you have already filed a claim and received a denial, our team of attorneys could also help you file an appeal based on your hearing loss or tinnitus. Call VetLaw today to learn more about veterans hearing loss and tinnitus claims.
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Disability Ratings And Va Benefits
The VA provides disability compensation for hearing loss and tinnitus.
The first thing a veteran needs to do is to establish that their hearing loss or tinnitus is connected to their service. Visit the VAs eligibility for benefits webpage to read more about how to start a claim.
For hearing loss and tinnitus, a veteran will need to know the basics of their condition:
The VA requires both a pure-tone and a Maryland CNC test for hearing loss. Depending on the results, the VA will assign a disability rating from 0 to 10 percent. You can read more about disability ratings from the VAs ratings guide.
For tinnitus, the disability rating is 10 percent. Veterans with hearing loss and tinnitus can get separate ratings for each disability.
New Ongoing And Published Research
VA researchers are studying ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing loss and related issues. They are also addressing a wide range of technological, medical, rehabilitative, and social issues associated with tinnitus and blast exposure.
If you are interested in learning about joining a VA-sponsored clinical trial, visit our research study information page.
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Hearing Loss Claim Denied
Check out our VA Hearing Disability calculator here where you can easily get an estimate on your VA benefits for hearing for free! As a disclaimer, filing a disability claim is no easy task, so dont get discouraged. If you have any questions about severe hearing loss, a medical-vocational allowance, blue book listings, residual functional capacity, the ADA, or qualifying medical records, be sure to contact us. Our team of lawyers at Hill and Ponton are happy to answer any questions you may have.
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How Va Rates Hearing Loss
When assigning disability ratings for hearing loss, VA takes the results of your pure tone threshold test and averages it for each ear. To do so, VA uses a grid chart with different frequencies and lines up the thresholds. This tells the VA rater what the rating should be based on what level of hearing loss they decided you have. Hearing loss involves a very literal application of the rating schedule. Please note that VA rates both ears together, resulting in only one rating for hearing loss.
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Risk Factors Of Hearing Problems
Aging increases your chances of developing hearing loss, but certain genetic properties may also place you at higher risk for hearing loss even from the time youre born. Certain diseases that produce a high fever can also cause damage to your inner ear, leaving you susceptible to hearing loss. And if medications like Viagra and specific antibiotics can cause damage to your inner ear.
Loud noise exposure can come from either professional or personal noises. It will come as no surprise to you that veterans, who are exposed to everything from gunfire to explosions, often with no hearing protection, are at higher risk of hearing loss. Hobbies like carpentry, motorcycling, snowmobiling, and listening to loud music can also cause damage to your inner ear.
Va Approved Diagnosis For Hearing Loss
One step to getting service-connected disability payments from the VA is to get a qualifying medical diagnosis. The VA is strict that the diagnosis for hearing loss must be based on two hearing tests administered by a licensed audiologist .
One of the hearing tests measures speech recognition: how many words, out of 50, can a veteran hear and recognize.
The other hearing test measures overall hearing capabilities: testing the faintest tone that the veteran can hear.
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Selected Scientific Articles By Our Researchers
Development and initial validation of the lifetime exposure to noise and solvents questionnaire in U.S. Service Members and Veterans. Griest-Hines SE, Bramhall NF, Reavis KM, Theodoroff SM, Henry JA. The LENS-Q captures noise exposure over an individuals lifetime and is a valuable tool for capturing and measuring both military and non-military noise exposure. Am J Audiol. 2021 May 17 1-15.
Mental health symptoms among Veteran VA users by tinnitus severity: a population-based survey. Prewitt A, Harker G, Glbert TA, Hooker E, ONeil M, Reavis KM, Henry JA, Carlson KF. Mental health symptoms are strongly associated with Veterans tinnitus severity. Mil Med. 2021 Jan 25 186:167-175.
Tinnitus: an epidemiologic perspective. Henry JA, Reavis KM, Griest SE, Thielman EJ, Theodoroff SM, Grush LD, Carlson KF. This report suggests terminology and definitions to promote standards for the clinical definition of tinnitus and ascertainment of its etiology, functional effects, temporal characteristics, psychoacoustic parameters, and risk factors. Otolaryngol Clin Nort Am. 2020 Aug 53:481-499.
Noise: acoustic trauma and tinnitus, the US military experience. Theodoroff SM, Konrad-Martin D. Noise-induced tinnitus is multifaceted. By performing a thorough assessment, appropriate action can be taken to best meet the needs of patients. Otolaryngol Clin North am. 2020 Aug 53:543-553.
Of 10 Common Va Disability Claims: Paralysis Of The Sciatic Nerve
Based on the latest 2018-2019 VA data, Paralysis of the Sciatic Nerve, also known as Sciatica, was the #7 most common VA disability claims for all Veterans, across all demographics.
92.2% of Veterans are rated between 0% and 20%.
Musculoskeletal system conditions include issues with joints and muscles and must involve limitation of range of motion and/or painful motion.
Back injuries and various musculoskeletal injuries, which can lead to Sciatica, or severe radiating pain, are quite common for veterans.
Sciatica is the pain that one experiences when the sciatic nerve is irritated.
Sciatica is not an actual diagnosis of a problem, but rather, an accurate way of describing the location of the pain.
What is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body.
This nerve runs from the lower back through the hips and buttocks all the way down to the leg.
Sciatica is extreme pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips and buttocks and down each leg.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Sciatica most commonly occurs when a herniated disk, bone spur on the spine or narrowing of the spine compresses part of the nerve. This causes inflammation, pain and often some numbness in the affected leg.
Sciatica develops when the pressure on the spinal nerve causes pain to develop on the lower back, buttocks, and legs.
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Of 10 Most Common Va Disability Claims: Limitation Of Motion Of The Ankle
Based on the latest 2018-2019 VA data, Limitation of Motion of the Ankle was the #8 most common VA disability claims for all Veterans, across all demographics.
Musculoskeletal system conditions include issues with joints and muscles and must involve limitation of range of motion and/or painful motion.
VA ratings for the ankle are usually at 0 percent and 10 percent. Some go as high as 20 percent.
Symptoms associated with musculoskeletal system conditions include limitation of range of motion , painful motion, arthritis, weakness, easily fatigued, loss of power, lack of coordination and decreased movement control.
Musculoskeletal disabilities can also be filed as secondary VA disability claims, and can be caused or made worse any of the following conditions: medication side effects, depression and anxiety, PTSD, TBI, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder , right side of body injuries affect left side of body and spine, neck, back, hips, arms, legs, and feet, among others.
Qualifying For Disability Without Meeting A Listing In The Blue Book
Under certain conditions, people can get disability benefits without meeting or matching a disability listing. When applicants qualify in this manner, they are granted a medical vocational allowance after the SSA conducts a residual functional capacity or RFC evaluation.
In an RFC, the SSA looks at your age, education level, job skills, work history, training, and other factors to determine the kinds of work for which youre qualified. They then compare the usual job duties in your qualified work areas with your physical, mental, and/or emotional limitations. They use your medical records and information you and your doctor provide on functional report forms to complete this comparison.
Functional reports document your daily limitations in performing normal tasks, like buying groceries, cleaning your home, taking care of your pets, or preparing food. From this information and from all the other details on your application and in your medical records, the SSA can determine if your hearing loss keeps you from working in any job for which you are otherwise qualified.
For example, a person who has always worked direct customer service positions and has minimal transferable skills may qualify because their hearing loss prevents them from effectively communicating. In a case like this, an RFC may be sufficient for getting disability.
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Veterans Benefits Act Of 2002
There are also different rules for those claiming a bilateral hearing loss VA disability. Bilateral hearing loss is partial or complete inability to hear from both ears. Individuals with bilateral hearing loss are typically considered for a higher VA rating, along the lines of 30 percent compared to the usual 10 percent.
In the past, if an individual experienced hearing loss in one ear from an in-service event, and hearing loss in the other from an out-of-service event, the individual could only be compensated for bilateral hearing loss if they experienced total deafness. Meaning the VA could only compensate a veteran for non-service-connected bilateral hearing loss if the individual could not hear at all.
The Veterans Benefits Act of 2002 altered this rule to allow bilateral compensation for partial deafness. This means that individuals who experience hearing loss in one ear from a service-connected event may also be eligible to receive additional benefits from hearing loss in the other ear from an event unrelated to service. The basis of this law is that an individual is at a higher risk of developing hearing problems in one ear if the other ear is already damaged to some degree.
If you develop bilateral hearing loss after your initial claim it is possible to appeal for additional benefits.
What Is Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is fairly common in adults as they age.
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 75 have some degree of hearing loss.
Furthermore, nearly 1 in 2 adults past the age of 75 have permanent hearing loss.
Hearing loss is divided into three different types:
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.
Therefore, it involves hearing damage in the outer, middle, and inner ear.
Military personnel confronts additional dangers and concerns when it comes to hearing loss.
Service members generally perform job functions around loud machinery or explosions.
The repeated exposure to these types of loud sounds pays a price on your hearing as it slowly deteriorates over time.
Most types of hearing loss are irreversible which is why taking care of your ears and exposure to loud noise from an early age is so important.
Unfortunately, veterans often notice their hearing deteriorate at a much faster rate compared to the civilian population because of their job demands.
As a result, seeking VA compensation through a disability claim is often the best means of getting relief.
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