Learn More About Your Va Disability Rating For Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is a common VA disability claim, but the system used to manage it can be confusing. Understanding your VA disability rating for hearing loss will help you ensure that you get all the compensation youre owed. Remember to have your doctor run both tests on both of your ears so you can accurately calculate your disability rating.
If youd like help submitting a claim or appealing a ruling, get in touch with us at Woods and Woods, The Veterans Firm. We fight for veterans every day, and you dont pay unless we win. Contact us today to get help with your VA disability claim.
Hearing Loss Va Ratings For Disability
One of the most common disability claims the VA sees is hearing loss. Working around loud machinery and in combat zones can damage your ears, leaving you unable to distinguish what people are saying or to hear faint noises. In some cases, your service may leave you entirely deaf before the end of your life.
However, while hearing loss is one of the most common disability claims, it is also one of the most complex to understand. Read on to learn more about how to understand your VA disability rating for hearing loss and to find what youre owed.
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.
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How Bilateral Hearing Loss Is Different From Normal Hearing Loss
There is a huge difference between bilateral hearing loss and normal hearing loss. The normal hearing loss may occur in both or one ear but the bilateral hearing loss can occur in both ears that may be caused by the inner, middle, outer ear, or a combination of these areas. It is reduced the hearing ability in both ears. Normal hearing loss can be recovered by medicine or antibiotics but surgery or best hearing aid is the best solution for bilateral hearing loss treatment.
Thus in order to understand the differences between them, you should first know the difference between normal hearing and bilateral hearing. Normal hearing ranges from 0 to 20dB ie from 20Hz to 20000Hz. The bilateral hearing refers to the hearing with the help of the bilateral hearing aids. Lets discuss the differences between the two.
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.
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How Hearing Loss Is Measured
So how do you know if you have hearing loss and to what degree? Dont guess or try to treat your inability to hear with over-the-counter or mail order solutions. Instead, make an appointment with a qualified hearing healthcare professional. Your family physician may be able to refer you, or you can visit our online directory and find a trusted professional in your community.
In this case, this person cannot hear high-pitched sounds unless they are fairly loud. This will make hearing speech difficult. High-frequency hearing loss is a fairly common hearing loss pattern for people with age-related hearing loss. Others may struggle to hear low-frequency sounds and other sound ranges.
The hearing healthcare professional will administer a series of hearing tests. The outcome of the evaluation is known as an audiogram, a graph of the softest sounds you heard during your test. Heres an example of an audiogram of someone with mild-to-moderately-severe high-frequency hearing loss. As you can see, hearing thresholds in each ear are not always the same.
Based on the outcome and the lifestyle information you provide, the hearing healthcare professional will be able to recommend a course of treatment, which may include the purchase of hearing aids and enrollment in auditory therapy classes. Keep in mind, untreated hearing loss puts you at risk for developing a host of other health-related problems, including depression, dementia and Alzheimers disease.
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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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.
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.
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Hearing Loss Connected To Time In The Military
Various incidents other than gunfire can cause hearing loss or tinnitus, many of which can occur during active duty or even training. For example, servicemembers who train in artillery or tank units can sustain hearing loss or tinnitus from being near loud noises even if they wear ear protection.
A common hearing condition is known as tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, may not necessarily result from direct trauma to the ear and can be a symptom of head injuries, neck injuries, or muscle spasms in the ear. A claim for entitlement to service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus can provide compensation following any of these events if they are connected to your time on active duty. Many veterans do not notice that they suffer from hearing loss or tinnitus until years after their discharge, and VA will routinely deny claims for these conditions due to the delay in filing for benefits. An appeal is typically needed to win these claims.
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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What To Expect At Your Exam
In addition to the two tests we discussed, your doctor may also want to perform a few additional tests to determine the exact extent of your hearing loss. Theyll likely begin by asking you about your medical history and your history of noise exposure. They may also perform a physical exam to check for built-up earwax or unusual growths in your ear canal.
Your doctor may do several screening tests, including having you cover each ear and determining at what volume you can begin to hear sounds. They may also check if and how you respond to various other sounds. They might also use tuning forks, simple, two-pronged instruments, to determine which tones you can and cant hear.
Here one of our VA disability lawyers gives you tips as youre going in to your C& P exam.
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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Disabilityratings For Hearing Impairment
To receive disabilitycompensation for hearing loss, you must first prove that you are eligible for benefits. The VA requires that you:
- Served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, and
- Have a disability rating for your service-connected condition
The VA calculates your disability rating, a percentage based on the severity of yourdisability, by looking at your medical history, including any test results ordoctor reports, as well as information from other sources, like federalagencies or a VA claim exam if youve undergone one.
The VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities shows that mild or moderate hearing loss can range from 0% to 10%, while severe hearing loss may range from 30% to 50%.
The rating for tinnitus is 10%, which is assigned regardless of whether it affects one or both ears. However, you can receive individual ratings for hearing loss and tinnitus.
Can A Veteran Claim Disability For Hip Pain
Related conditions include lower back pain and degenerative arthritis. Certain types of cancer can also cause hip pain. The VA allows its veterans to claim disability for hip pain if they developed it due to their time in the service. This condition can directly stem from extreme strain placed on the hip or due to overuse.
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What Is The Difference Between Hearing Loss And Deafness
Hearing loss refers to ones reduced ability tohear and discern sounds and noises in the same manner as other people.
Deafness, on the other hand, takes place whenone cannot understand speech even when the sound is augmented.
There are 3 main types of hearing loss thatconsist of:
1. Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when vibrationsare not transmitted from the outer ear to the inner ear.
Conductive hearing loss is very common, and itoccurs as a result of:
- Ear infections that lead toinflammation
- Problems with the ossicles
- Accumulated ear wax
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused byproblems occurring in the inner ear or as a result of brain damage.
Sensorineural hearing loss typically occursover time as veterans get older.
Another common cause of Sensorineural hearingloss is exposure to intensive noises, principally the high-frequency ones, overa long period of time.
Once Sensorineural hearing loss occurs, itcannot be repaired.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss
When veterans suffer from mixed hearing loss,it means that they have a combination of Sensorineural hearing loss and Conductivehearing loss.
When one has mixed hearing loss, he or she canundergo surgery to restore normal hearing, although this outcome is not alwaysassured.
The military, in general, is a high noise setting.
But just because you are suffering from hearingloss does not mean that you will receive compensation by VA standards.
Causes Of Bilateral Hearing Loss
A bilateral hearing loss can be caused by many factors. The most common causes are: age, noise exposure, heredity and medication, which all mostly lead to a sensorineural hearing loss. You can also have a bilateral hearing loss if both of your ears ability to conduct sound into the inner ear are blocked or reduced. This is called a conductive hearing loss.
When the bilateral hearing loss is both conductive and sensorineural, it is called a mixed hearing loss.
If you think that you might have a bilateral hearing loss, we recommend that you get your hearing checked by a hearing professional.
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How To File A Va Claim For Hearing Loss
It is vital to do your homework when you start preparing a VA disability claim.
Thankfully, the VA recognizes hearing impairment as a significant issue in the U.S. Armed Forces and usually attempts to work with veterans toward receiving disability benefits.
However, you will still need to follow a complicated process to state your case:
Step 1: Schedule an examination for hearing impairment with a state-licensed audiologist.
Step 2: Make sure that the hearing examination also includes a controlled speech discrimination test and puretone audiometry test. The examinations are conducted without the use of hearing aids.
Step 3: The VA uses Table VI, Numeric Designation of Hearing Impairment Based on Puretone Threshold Average and Speech Discrimination to determine a Roman numeral designation for your level of hearing impairment.
Step 4: The VA determines a percentage evaluation for hearing impairment by combining the Roman numeral designation for each ear based on test results.
Step 5: After hearing loss is determined through the examination, the veteran must link the hearing impairment to a service connection. In certain situations, patients may only be able to prove the hearing impairment is service-connected in only one ear.
Step 6: The VA concludes its medical evaluation and assigns a final VA disability rating. Based on the rating, the veteran may receive special monthly compensation for deafness or another hearing loss disability.
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.
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