Can I Receive Va Disability For Hearing Loss Or Tinnitus
More than 28 million Americans are affected by hearing loss more than half of those over age 75.
Hearing problems, including the ringing or buzzing sensation known as tinnitus, are the most common service-connected disability among veterans.
If you are a veteran, you may be able to receive VA disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus. The team at The Law Offices of Michael Hartup explains what the VA can do for you and your service-associated hearing conditions below.
If you need further assistance applying for disability benefits, our attorneys at Michael Hartup are ready to help. Call our Jackson, Tennessee office at or fill out a contact form online.
Can You See A Local Provider
Thanks to the MISSION Act of 2018, veterans now have greater access to hearing care providers in their local community. VA Community Care, as its known, may be available to you if you live too far from a VA clinic, or if there is a long waiting time to get an appointment at the closest VA facility. This welcome kit provides more detailed information. Increasingly, the VA is also offering teleaudiology for veterans who canât travel far.
Tinnitus And Hearing Loss Are The Most Common Va Disabilities
In 2018, the most recent year for which we have data, there were about 306,000 vets that began receiving disability benefits. Of those 306,000, there were 233,000 claims that contained tinnitus and/or hearing loss. Some veterans claimed both at the same time, because as you may already know, you can suffer from both of them at once.
Everything from loud guns to a hot PA system in an auditorium can give you tinnitus. Some veterans have also been found to get it from antibiotics or impact from a wreck or explosion. It doesnt always have to be from a loud noise.
Even with hearing protection, hearing loss or tinnitus can happen. If the hearing protection is defective, thats an additional legal case altogether. We also help veterans with the defective 3M earplug case, but that is separate from getting your VA disability approved.
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How Is Hearing Loss Defined
Hearing loss is defined as any degree of hearing impairment of the ability to comprehend sound. If you are diagnosed with both hearing loss and tinnitus, you may be entitled to one separate rating for hearing loss and another separate rating for tinnitus.
The following is needed to establish service connection for VA disability:
Along with the list above, two types of hearing tests are needed to prove a claim for hearing loss. These tests will include a controlled speech discrimination test and a pure tone audiometry test. The Maryland CNC test is a particular word list that is used to test your ability to hear spoken words. A pure tone audiometry test is different tones that must be detected at varying frequencies . Even if you only claim hearing loss in one ear, both ears should be tested. Examinations will be conducted without the use of hearing aids. This will prevent any biased results. These tests should be performed by a state licensed audiologist.
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What If My Hearing Loss Claim Is Denied
In some cases, a Veteran who has service-connected hearing loss will find their claim denied. This can happen for a few reasons:
- The VA often denies a claim if they cannot verify a connection between a Veterans hearing loss and their military service. Without this service connection, the VA cannot approve a claim.
- A claim can also be denied if the VA determines that a Veterans hearing loss, while service-connected, is not severe enough to justify receiving disability benefits. Some Veterans may find their claims denied because the VA rated their disability status at below ten percent. Since a 10 percent disability rating is the minimum required score to qualify for benefits, a rating that is any lower will not result in monthly payments.
- Sometimes, the VA will defer a Veterans hearing loss claim, meaning the claim has neither been approved nor denied. If the VA defers your claim, it typically means you have not completed a required step in the claim-filing process.
If your hearing loss claim has been denied, dont give up on fighting to receive disability benefits. However, its best not to fight alone having an attorney on your team when appealing a VA decision can help you get the best possible outcome.
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Hearing Loss Va Ratings Schedule For 2020
Hearing loss is a significant problem for veterans of the military.
According to the VA, more than 2.7 million veterans currently receiving disability for hearing loss or tinnitus.
However, most medical experts argue the number is even higher as not every veteran is aware of their hearing problems or have sought compensation for the disability.
Regardless of the specific number of veterans receiving disability benefits for hearing loss, the problem is prevalent in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Additionally, those that served after September 11 are 4x more likely to have hearing loss compared to civilian counterparts.
The bottom line is hearing loss is a bigger dilemma for veterans compared to most individuals that have worked in the civilian world.
Hearing loss can significantly alter your life, negatively impacting your quality of life and daily functioning.
For this reason, the VA currently offers disability benefits to veterans with hearing loss.
The VA rates hearing loss through federal code 38 CFR 4.85 Evaluation of Hearing Impairment.
The VA ratings are designed to examine each patient on a case by case basis for hearing impairment.
A rating is assigned to the patient based on age and the degree of hearing damage.
The higher percentage the patient receives, the higher likelihood of receiving approval for a disability claim and therefore more compensation.
Abouthearing Loss And Tinnitus
Around 466 million people around the world have disabling hearing loss. Disabling hearing loss means hearing loss greater than 40 decibels in adults and 30 dB in children. Compare that to a person with normal hearing, who has hearing thresholds of 25 dB or better in both ears.
Hearing problems can range from mild or moderate to severe or profound. It can affect one or both ears. Those who are hard of hearing experience hearing loss ranging from mild to severe.
People who are hard of hearing may use hearing aids, cochlear implants or other assistive devices. Those who are deaf typically have profound hearing loss, and often use sign language to communicate.
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Your Hearing Loss May Also Qualify For Free Or Low
If the VA determines you have service-connected hearing problems, then theyll approve your claim for disability benefits. Hearing aids can certainly help some veterans hear better than they do without them. Depending on what caused your own hearing issues, the VA may provide the following at no cost to you:
- Free hearing aids and any other required accessories
- Replacement batteries as needed
- Repairs and hearing aid replacements for the rest of your life, provided you maintain eligibility for VA healthcare services
However, you cannot get this free or low-cost benefit until after you file a VA disability claim for hearing loss.
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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How Does A Person Qualify For Workers’ Comp Because Of Hearing Loss
A tricky aspect of on-the-job hearing loss is determining the cause.
While in some cases there is a clearly defined problem in most cases hearing loss develops over time, from prolonged exposure to hazardous noise levels, Dokianakis says.
The end result: People often file claims well after the occurrence of the actual injury, Frantz says.
For workers who have held many jobs, at many companies, untangling which employer is responsible can be challenging, he points out.
How To Get Hearing Loss Service Connected
Hearing loss is defined as any degree of hearing impairment or deafness of the ability to comprehend sound. If you are diagnosed with both hearing loss and tinnitus, you may be entitled to one separate rating for hearing loss and another separate rating for tinnitus.
The following is needed to establish service connection for VA disability:
Along with the list above, two types of hearing tests are needed to prove a claim for hearing loss. These tests will include a controlled speech discrimination test and a pure tone audiometry test. The Maryland CNC test is a particular word list that is used to test your ability to hear spoken words.
A pure tone audiometry test is different tones that must be detected at varying frequencies . Even if you only claim hearing loss in one ear, both ears should be tested at several different decibels levels. Examinations will be conducted without the use of hearing aids. This will prevent any biased results. These tests should be performed by a state-licensed audiologist or an otolaryngologist and will be in reference to an established hearing threshold .
Tinnitus is the most common disability filed for with the VA. Approximately 1.6 million have filed for tinnitus!
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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.
Other Evidence For Hearing Loss Claims
Other evidence for hearing loss claims may include anything that shows that the condition has been chronic. For example, if you have years of treatment notes from doctors demonstrating complaints of hearing loss shortly after service through the present day, you may want to consider submitting them to VA. Additionally, it may be beneficial to provide documentation of any accommodations you require, such as hearing aids or an amplification system for your home phone. VA must consider all of this evidence when adjudicating your claim for hearing loss.
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Establishing Direct Service Connection For Hearing Or Vision Problems
To qualify for disability benefits for a visual or auditory problem caused by service on the basis of direct service connection, you need to prove the condition was caused by your military duty. The following must be established to prove the disability is service-connected:
- a current diagnosis of a hearing or vision condition
- evidence of an event in service that caused the condition, and
- a medical opinion linking the current vision or hearing condition to the event in service.
How Is The Va Disability Rate For Hearing Loss Currently Decided
To understand whether you are getting the correct VA Disability rate for hearing loss, we need to first take a step back and understand what the whole point of an impairment rating is in the first place.
As I teach in my 5+ hour training video, How to Prove the 4 Pillars of your VA Service Connection Claim, the Impairment Rating is the 3rd Pillar. It is how the VA takes the frequency, chronicity and severity of your disability, considers how it affects you in your daily life with special focus on its impact on your ability to work, and converts that to a percentage for disability compensation purposes.
Over the years, I have noticed that a lot of Veterans put so a lot of energy into proving the 2nd Pillar proving that their current disability is related to service but lie exhausted on the field of battle and dont fight as hard when it comes to the ratings.
And VA disability ratings for hearing loss are no exception to this observation. I teach, in great detail, how to maximize your VA Disability Rating for any condition by using the right evidence to prove the right facts in the 4 Pillars Training Course, and wont repeat them all here.
The first thing I teach, though, is to look at the VA rating tables to determine what symptoms or manifestations of your disability that you need to prove for that condition.
If you go to the VA hearing loss rating table, you would find that the VA focuses in the rating table on 2 very mechanical criteria.
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Veterans Hearing Loss And Tinnitus Claims
Hearing loss is a common lasting effect of active service in the military, as at minimum all active duty personnel must undergo basic training that exposes soldiers, sailors, and airmen to live fire. Veterans who have spent time on active duty may have also endured loud explosions, wounds that affect the ear canals, or trauma resulting from violent blows to the head.
As a result, many veterans now suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus that is traceable to their time on active duty. Fortunately, you can pursue a physical condition claim for veterans compensation benefits if you currently have hearing loss or tinnitus because of your service even if you do not have an official diagnosis. A knowledgeable member of our team could help you pursue your veterans hearing loss and tinnitus claim or appeal by explaining the qualifying criteria for the program, helping you file a claim, and pursuing an appeal if you have already received a denial.
Hearing Loss And Veterans
According to VA, more than 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus however, the actual number may be even higher. That is, there may be additional veterans with hearing loss who are not receiving VA disability compensation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that veterans are 30 percent more likely than non-veterans to have severe hearing impairment. Specifically, those who served after 9/11 are four times more likely to have hearing loss as compared to their civilian counterparts. Hearing loss can significantly impact veterans quality of life and daily functioning. It is important for veterans with hearing loss to receive a diagnosis and seek treatment from a health professional.
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How Does Va Evaluate Tinnitus
The VA standards for disability for hearing loss are determined by the test results of speech recognition pure tone threshold average and/or combinations of both. Various levels of rating percentages can be issued based on the results of the testing. However, for tinnitus, there are specific ways to prove your case with the VA.
Having a nexus statement is very important. Did you work near loud noises like working on a flight line, working with or near explosives, explosives or, gunfire? These exposures are all proof and evidence for a nexus statement to show a nexus for your tinnitus. As with most conditions, veterans need the nexus more likely than not caused by. to substantiate their claim. If one of these factors didnt cause the tinnitus, you need a link to you are claiming caused it. For example, if you are claiming it was due to medications, you must prove you took the medications and have the medical records to prove it. Same with exposure. If you believe noise or chemicals caused the objective tinnitus, you must have evidence of it happening in service.
Basic Eligibility Rules For Veterans Disability Benefits
Everyone who applies for VA disability must meet certain basic requirements to qualify for benefits. This is true regardless of what medical issues youre dealing with, including hearing loss. In order to qualify for VA disability benefits, you must:
Not sure if your hearing loss is service-connected or not? Heres how you can tell:
- You did not have any hearing issues before joining the military, and yours only started after your service discharge.
- Your doctor determines that the damage to your hearing comes from an illness or injury during your military service. For example: Long-term exposure to jet propulsion fuel is known to cause auditory processing dysfunction. In addition, blast injuries often damage veterans central auditory systems and make it harder to understand others when they speak.
- You had hearing issues before joining the military that got measurably worse as a result of your service. Lets say you had 10% hearing loss before joining the Navy, but that increased to 30% after your discharge. Exposure to loud noise is linked to increased hearing impairment in veterans.
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