Hearing Issue the Most Common Disability for Active-duty, Veterans

Hearing Issue the Most Common Disability for Active-duty, Veterans

If you’re a Veteran suffering from hearing loss you believe to be the result of your service, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. Hearing issues are among the most common disabilities for active-duty Veterans, but it can be challenging to connect your hearing loss to your service and get the benefits you deserve.

For help, contact a VA disability benefits attorney in your area to discuss your claim.

VA Disability Statistics: Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 10 percent of all new disability claims for Veterans in 2020 were due to tinnitus, which can be an early sign of hearing loss. Noise exposure is the most common cause of tinnitus for those in the military community and is typically described as a ringing in the ears. This can be a rare occurrence for some, but a constant and painful distraction for others.

Veterans and active-duty military personnel who interact often with artillery and demolitions are likely to experience tinnitus. Damage done to the ear is permanent and irreversible, as there is no way to rebuild the damaged cells. Preventative measures should always be taken to mitigate hearing loss, but in combat situations, this may not always be possible.

Another frequently reported disability is 6100-Hearing loss, with 4.2% of all new disability claims citing the condition in the 2020 fiscal year. Together, tinnitus and 6100-Hearing loss account for more than 13% of all disabilities. Around 2.3 million Veterans received service-connected VA benefits for tinnitus.

Loss of hearing or the painful experiences of tinnitus are yet another aspect of life that veterans may have to adapt to, on top of rotating home or dealing with other medical conditions or injuries because of their service. In fact, the VA reports that Veterans are 30% more likely to experience hearing loss than non-Veterans.

How Can I Establish a Service Connection to My Tinnitus or Hearing Loss?

To receive VA disability benefits, you must show that your tinnitus or hearing loss is a result of your service. To establish a connection, you must:

  • Receive a current diagnosis of your condition
  • Connect your condition to an in-service event
  • Obtain a medical nexus that definitively links your condition to your time in service

When seeking a current diagnosis, you must undergo a hearing exam performed by a licensed audiologist. The audiologist must perform two tests to determine your level of impairment before the VA will consider your claim:

  • The Puretone Audiometric Test – Determines your level of hearing loss by measuring the faintest tones you can detect. In most cases, you will wear headphones and alert the physician by raising your hand or pressing a button when you hear a tone.
  • Maryland CNC Test – Uses a 50-word test to score how well you understand speech. Your score on this test helps the VA determine the severity of your hearing loss.

Keep in mind that a hearing test from your private physician may not count toward your claim. When you file your claim, the VA will schedule you for a compensation and pension (C&P) examination. During this exam, a VA examiner will administer the hearing tests. They will then mark a series of boxes in your claims file that describe your condition and offer an opinion as to whether your hearing loss is a result of an in-service incident.

Provide Evidence of Your Hearing Loss

To support your claim, you want to include as much evidence as you can. If you’ve been experiencing hearing loss for years, you need to submit evidence showing your condition is chronic. This can include notes from doctors you visited testifying about your hearing loss symptoms beginning from the end of your service to the present day. You also want to submit documentation of any accommodations you require, such as hearing aids or amplification devices.

If you are seeking VA benefits for hearing loss many years after your service, the VA examiner may try to assert that your hearing loss is the result of your aging or other natural causes and not a service-related incident.

If you receive such an unfavorable determination, you may submit evidence and arguments refuting the examiner’s conclusions. For instance, you could submit lay testimony from family and friends describing the extent of your hearing loss and its impact on your life and relationships.

The VA must consider any evidence you submit when evaluating and ruling on your claim.

How Does the VA Rate Hearing Loss?

The VA rates hearing loss on a scale from 0 to 100, and ratings vary by case. Typical hearing loss ratings are either zero or 10 percent, but severe hearing loss may warrant a higher rating. A zero rating doesn’t mean you don’t have hearing loss, only that your condition is not disabling.

If you have both 6100-Hearing Loss and tinnitus, the VA will assign a rating to each. Also, if you are totally deaf in both ears because of an in-service event, you may qualify to receive additional monthly benefits known as Special Compensation. Total deafness in only one ear doesn’t qualify you for Special Compensation.

If you have hearing loss due to cancer, you may qualify for a 100% rating for up to six months following the termination of your cancer treatment. If an in-service event tore off or severely damaged your auricle (ear lobe), you could receive ratings of 30 or 50 percent, depending on whether it affected one or both ears.

Contact an Experienced VA Disability Benefits Attorney for Help

Submitting a complete application to the VA can help to expedite the disability benefits process. An attorney experienced in Veteran’s affairs can assist with this process and advocate on your behalf to help increase your chance of getting the highest rating possible.

The disability process may seem daunting, but you do not need to face it alone. Contact the experienced VA disability attorneys at Berry Law for help. We can handle all aspects of your claim, including any appeals that may become necessary.

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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