Secondary Effects of TBI

If you suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in service, the VA may grant you compensation entitlement based on cognitive, emotional/behavioral, and physical loss of functioning.   For its most basic ratings criteria, the VA will evaluate your memory; judgment; social interaction; orientation; motor activity; visual spatial orientation; subjective symptoms; neurobehavioral effects; communication ability; and consciousness. However, veterans with TBI may be entitled to other compensation benefits for secondary or analogous disabilities caused by their TBI.

Headaches are one of the most common side effects of TBI.  Sleep disorders are also common after a TBI.  Injuries to the head can also lead to vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus, sensitivity to light or sound, blurred or double vision, and Meniere’s syndrome.  TBI may also explain some musculoskeletal pain. TBI may also show links to mental disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Veterans with specific types of dementia (presenile dementia of the Alzheimer type, frontotemporal dementia, and dementia with Lewy bodies) may be entitled to presumptive service connection, if the dementia manifests within 15 years of a moderate or severe TBI.

If you have disabilities caused by TBI, that are not in the TBI diagnostic code, the VA should rate you for these disabilities on a secondary basis.

Tinnitus is rated at 10%; headaches and migraines can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, or 50% disabling; sleep disorders from 30% to 50%; and Meniere’s syndrome is rated at 30%.  Mental disorders are rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%. TBI itself can be rated at 0%, 10%, 40%, 70%, or 100% (though a 100% rating for TBI is rare), so if you have received a low rating for TBI, getting service connected for secondary disabilities can help increase your total rating.

Additionally, many veterans with TBI are also service connected for PTSD, yet the VA may rate the veteran for either TBI or PTSD; and not both. This is error if the veteran’s PTSD symptoms can be distinguished from their TBI symptoms.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a TBI and would like to appeal a VA rating decision, please contact the relentless Veterans Benefits attorneys at Berry Law today.