This Veterans Case For An Extra Schedular Rating For Va Disability Hearing Loss
The Veteran a field artillery guy like myself had bilateral hearing loss that the VA;service-connected. Even though his hearing loss had a profound impact on his ability to function in the world, the VA assigned him a 0% rating.
So the Veteran appealed. ;Ultimately, the case worked its way up to the BVA and CAVC. ;The VA and the BVA focused on the impact the hearing loss had on the Veterans employability; this factor was largely irrelevant to what the Veteran claimed.
The Veterans Court let the VA know that they used the wrong analysis again in deciding an extra schedular rating. ;The leading case in this area is Thun v Peake, 22 Vet. App 111 . ;The;Thun case says that when the Veteran claims an extra-schedular rating under 38 CFR 3.321, it must perform the following analysis:
1) First, compare the level of severity of the Veterans actual symptoms and limitations with the established criteria in the VA Impairment Ratings Table.
2) Second, if the Impairment Rating schedule fails to consider the symptoms and limitations that the Veteran is experiencing in reality,;the VA is to consider whether those symptoms and limitations include what are called related factors: ;marked interference with employment, and frequent hospitalizations.
3) Third, if those related factors exist, the claim must be referred to the;Under Secretary for Benefits or the Director of VA;Compensation Service for a decision as to the proper rating to assign.
What Is The Average Va Compensation For Hearing Loss
According to Veterans United, the average veteran receives $435 per month at a 30% disability rating.
Meanwhile, the same veteran at a 50% disability rating would receive nearly $900 per month.
The VA determines your disability rating after a medical review of the condition and the compensation levels are subject to change.
Moreover, the compensation rates do change based on the number of dependents.
For example, a veteran claiming a spouse only will receive less in monthly disability compared to a veteran with a spouse and other dependents.
Contact a VA representative for more information on the claims process and potential disability payouts.
How To Determine Your Disability Compensation
To determine your disability compensation, you need to file a claim with VA. The VA rates your disability by severity after reviewing every piece of evidence in your claim.
You may only receive compensation for a single diagnostic code per condition, even if that condition satisfies more than one diagnostic code. However, those with more than one condition may receive additional compensation based on the combined rating system.
You may receive additional compensation if:
- You have very severe disabilities or loss of limb
- you have a spouse, children, or dependent parents
- you have a seriously disabled spouse
Note: If you have more than one child or your spouse receives Aid and Attendance benefits , be sure to include the figures from the “Add” row.
Did you know: Veterans can use their disability income in conjunction with their VA loan benefits. Speak with a home loan specialist to see how much you can afford.
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How The Martinak Case Changed Hearing Loss Evaluations
The case was published in 2007 and its a pretty important case. ;So important, in fact, that you cannot get a copy of it on the website of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Im not suggesting ANYTHING improper here in fact, the Court is doing what it is supposed to do complying with what Congress is telling it to do. ;So, to my friends and colleagues at the Court, please do not read this as an attack on or jab at the Court. ;Its not. Its a jab at our colleagues in the Legislative branch. ; Congress doesnt require the Court;to keep copies of case related records for this long. ;This is just another reason that Congress is part of the problem. ;It would take 6.5 minutes to write and pass a law that says that any Court reviewing a Veterans claim under Title 38 must maintain copies of the case files digitally for 50 years. Or 100 years. Digital storage is so cheap that I cant fathom why we wouldnt keep these records forever.
You can get a clean copy by looking up the case in a legal reporting service like Westlaw or Nexis. Heres the citation: , 27 Vet. App. 447 .
The Martinak case considered whether the VA policy of conducting the Puretone Audiometry and Speech Discrimination Tests in a controlled soundproof environment was a valid and appropriate way of testing hearing loss.
What does that mean?
When you get a hearing test at the VA, get a copy of the C&P Exam Report . ;Look at the report, and see if the doctor asked, or considered, the following factors:
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.
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Hearing Loss As A Va Disability
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs compensates veterans for injuries they receive during military service that become disabilities. One of the most commonly claimed VA-recognized disabilities is hearing loss. As one of the most self-explanatory conditions, hearing loss is disproportionately evident in veterans due to their level of exposure to loud noises and physical forces.
The VA provides varying levels of compensation depending on the severity and symptoms of an individuals hearing loss. However, its worth noting that the VA defines hearing loss by different standards than typical non-military doctors.
Of 10 Most Common Va Disability Claims: Tinnitus
The most common VA Disability Claim is tinnitus. According to 2018-2019 VA disability claims statistics, Tinnitus was the most common VA disability claim. In total, there were 57,152 compensation recipients. Tinnitus involves the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present.
The maximum VA rating for tinnitus is 10%.;People most at risk of Tinnitus work in loud conditions.
Your VA Tinnitus claim can be filed as a secondary disability, and can be made worse by the following conditions: head and neck conditions, Menieres disease, depression and anxiety, PTSD, TBI, hearing loss, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and high blood pressure, among others.
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Hearing Loss Testing Requirements
Hearing loss as a result of loud noises that veterans were exposed to during service, such as airplane engines or gunfire, are quite common. To be deemed service-connected, hearing problems must be diagnosed by a licensed audiologist and must include two tests:
- a Maryland CNC test , and
- a puretone audiometric test .
Make sure to tell your audiologist that you must have both tests in order to satisfy the VA’s requirements for service connection. And be sure to remove any hearing aids you may have before being tested.
The VA takes the auditory test results and, using a numerical formula, determines the actual rating to assign. This formula is laid out in Section 4.85 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Typical ratings for hearing loss are 0% or 10%, but severe or profound hearing loss can qualify for a higher rating.
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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Get An Official Diagnosis
Your first step to getting the VA disability benefits you deserve will be to get an official diagnosis of hearing loss.
We recommend you schedule an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. That way, youll be able to start building your case for service-connected hearing loss.
The audiologist will be able to diagnose and determine the extent of your hearing loss. All of this medical documentation will be beneficial for proving your claim to the VA.
Our VA disability attorneys can also help you schedule an Independent Medical Examination . An IME doctor has no connection to you or the VA, which makes their medical option more valid in the eyes of the VA.
Causesof Hearing Loss Or Tinnitus In Veterans
With veterans, hearing loss and tinnitus can be caused by noise exposure to gunfire, tanks, bombs or aircraft noise.
Hearing problems can also occur due to age, or a combination of both noise exposure and age. Veterans are 30 percent more likely than nonveterans to have severe hearing impairment as well.
Even though hearing protection is mandatory and standard issue for all active-duty service members, hearing loss can still occur.
The good news is, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can help. Nearly 3 million veterans receive compensation for tinnitus or hearing loss.
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How The Va Rates Service
For a Veteran to receive disability benefits for hearing loss, the VA must be able to establish service connection for the condition. If the VA can confirm that your hearing damage resulted from your military service, they will rate your disability based on its severity. After the VA has established a service connection and approved your claim, you can start receiving tax-free monthly disability payments.
Hearing loss can range in severity, and some Veterans may be more disabled by their service-connected loss of hearing than others. If a Veteran is completely deaf due to service-related factors, they are far more likely to receive the maximum disability rating than a Veteran who is only partially hearing-impaired.;
In addition, the VAs disability benefits run on a rating scale between 10 percent and 100 percent, increasing in increments of ten. This means that there are nine different ratings that a deaf or hard of hearing Veteran can receive the VA will choose whichever rating they feel most accurately reflects the severity of the Veterans condition. However, the most common rating the VA gives to Veterans with hearing problems is 10%, especially if a Veteran is suffering from tinnitus.
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 can’t travel far.
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Determining Entitlement Where There Is Mixed Service
Regular and Reserve Force Service
If a Veteran/member has a permanent service-related hearing loss following their last period of Regular or Reserve Force service, and has a current hearing loss disability, entitlement may be granted to the first period of service
SDS, Regular and Reserve Force Service
If a Veteran/member has a permanent hearing loss following the SDS, and a current hearing loss disability, entitlement may be granted to the period of SDS.
RCMP and SDS
If a Veteran/member has a permanent hearing loss following the SDS, and a current hearing loss disability, entitlement may be granted to the period of SDS.
CAF and RCMP Service
VAC adjudicates disability pension claims for the RCMP. If a Veteran/member has a permanent service-related hearing loss documented on audiograms under both CAF and RCMP service and has a current hearing loss disability, entitlement is granted. Entitlement must be awarded in a manner to properly reflect the contribution related to each period of service. .
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.
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Of 10 Most Common Va Disability Claims: Scars General
Scars were the #4 most compensated claims for all Veterans, across all demographics.
76.2% of Veterans are rated at 0% for skin conditions and 18.6% of Veterans have a 10% rating for skin conditions.
Veterans can take their own color photos of skin conditions for your VA Claims File, also known as your C-File.
You can upload the color photos to your;eBenefits;account or VA.gov account once you prepare and file your own VA Claim.
Veterans Will Receive A 30 Percent Va Rating For The Loss Of One Ear
Va rating for hearing loss in one ear. The VA has a class given by the Audiology Department on how to cope with Tinnitus and a second follow up advanced class. Total hearing impairment regardless of the cause is included in the impairment criteria. A rating of even 30 or higher is usually significant of severely profound hearing loss.
The maximum VA rating for hearing loss is 100. A hearing loss rating is not required. Unless only one ear was specifically not service-connected then a 0 rating considered both ears whether or not each qualifies as a disability.
VA will provide hearing aids as long as a veteran has any compensable disability. The most common rating is 10 percent. Complete loss of both.
Conductive sensorineural or mixed. However you must then look to see if the scores meet the criteria for a higher numeric designation based on exceptional patterns of hearing impairment. Veterans will receive a bilateral factor and a VA rating of 50 percent for the loss of both ears.
The VA combines the hearing ability of both ears to determine a single rating for hearing loss. Veterans with total hearing loss in both ears are eligible for Special Monthly Compensation. Veterans will receive a 0 percent VA rating for perforated eardrum.
About when they offer it. This is when you cant hear sounds quieter than about 15 to 20 dB such as whispering or leaves rustling. In some cases a neuroma can press against your facial nerve and cause that side of your face to feel numb.
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Should Veterans Apply For Increased Ratings From The Department Of Veterans Affairs
This is a question best answered on a case-by-case basis. There are no guarantees that the VA will raise your disability rating, and your entire file may be subject to review not just the condition you want to have reviewed.
So the answer is not simple, but there are ways you can get closer to a decision. One of those is to examine the VA Schedule For Rating Disabilities, also known as 38 CFR Book C.
Reviewing this document can go a long way toward helping you understand what the VA is looking for, how the agency rates your specific condition, and what the compensation percentages are.
As mentioned above, the VA is willing to re-examine your medical claim, but if you dont understand how the VA does this, under what conditions additional compensation may be justified, and what the maximum compensation might be for your condition, you take a big risk in getting re-evaluated.