Tinnitus VA Disability Rating – Why Is It Important?
Sick of the ringing in the ears? Does it cause you to hear ringing or buzzing when nothing is around? Well, if the ringing started in your military service it may be time to apply for VA disability benefits.
When you serve in the U.S. military, you go above and beyond to protect and defend this country. Service members are exposed to loud noise and can develop chronic tinnitus, and inner ear problems. In return, the VA offers different programs to help you if you are ever injured while on active duty.
If you have tinnitus as a result of your service, it’s important to understand the veteran’s condition, and how the VA system can help you control the recurrent tinnitus.
There is no way for auditory test results to show if you have tinnitus, as most of the time it is a subjective condition.
This article takes an in-depth look at what tinnitus is, how it affects veterans, details about the VA rating for tinnitus, common treatments for tinnitus, and more.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the term used to describe the sensation of hearing sound when no external sound is present. It is commonly described as a ringing, buzzing, clicking, or hissing sound. The sounds may be heard in one or both ears.
Many people experience tinnitus occasionally; however, some people experience tinnitus all the time. Tinnitus can be caused by many different things and can be either temporary or permanent. Tinnitus is often accompanied by hearing loss. It’s important to note that not all people who experience hearing loss also experience tinnitus. In fact, most people with hearing loss do not have tinnitus. If you do have tinnitus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have more severe hearing loss than someone without tinnitus.
There are four types of Tinnitus
- Subjective Tinnitus The most common form of tinnitus. The ringing in the ears can onlybe heard by the affected individual are usually caused by exposure to hazardous noise.
- Neurological Caused by such disorders as Meniere’s disease, it primarily affects the brain’s auditory functions.
- Somatic Related to the sensory system. This form of tinnitus is caused, worsened, or otherwise related to the sensory system.
- Objective Tinnitus An extremely rare form of tinnitus that may be caused by muscle contractions or vascular deformities. An outside person can hear this form of tinnitus.
Tinnitus can be much more severe than many disabled veterans realize. Additional disorders can develop causing mental health conditions, peripheral vestibular disorders, and overall ear problems.
Common conditions that may be caused by Tinnitus are:
How Does Military Service Cause Tinnitus Symptoms?
There are many different causes of tinnitus, and not all of them are the direct result of injury or trauma. While it is possible to injure the ear enough to cause tinnitus, most cases of tinnitus are caused by an underlying medical condition.
Some of the most common causes of tinnitus are:
- Ear infections
- Exposure to loud noises
- Certain medications
- Age-related hearing loss
- and High blood pressure
- Traumatic brain injury
Since tinnitus can be caused by so many different things, it’s hard to say for certain how your military service caused your tinnitus. However, many of the underlying causes of tinnitus are increased by the stress of being in the military. Whether it’s the noise from being around loud explosions or the stress of combat, many of the factors that can cause tinnitus are present for military veterans.
A Tinnitus claim is the most granted disability ratings provided by the VA.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Tinnitus Symptoms
Tinnitus caused from Traumatic Brain Injury can be quite complex. mild TBI can cause tinnitus from either the medications prescribed, or as a direct result of the injury.
An excess pressure in the inner ear chambers can cause fluid buildup, resulting in Meniere’s syndrome. They Disease can develop months or years after the event. It may develop a month after a TBI or years later. Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVAs) or blasts can damage hair cells in the middle ear. This triggers tinnitus, hearing loss, and dizziness.
VA Rating for Tinnitus
The VA rates tinnitus at 10%. This means that a veteran with tinnitus is rated at 10% on their service-connected disability rating. This can be in only one ear, or bilaterally.
The tinnitus rating can be combined with other ratings, such as an hearing impairment rating, to produce a final overall disability rating (as defined by the VA’s numerical formula).
There is a calculator to perform the VA Math located here.
The amount of monthly compensation that a veteran with a tinnitus rating receives will depend on the severity all of their service connected conditions and diagnostic codes (called a schedular rating).
VA Disability Benefits for Tinnitus
Disability Compensation for Tinnitus is a straight 10%. This is the maximum rating and is described and mandated by Title 38 CFR 4.87 Diagnostic Code 6260. The diagnostic code states there is only one rating tinnitus. However, at the time of this writing, hearing loss can be separately rated amongst other secondary conditions allowing for additional claims and a higher rating.
Hearing Aids for Tinnitus and Assistive Device Benefit
Veterans with a tinnitus rating are eligible for VA-provided hearing aids. A hearing aid is a device that amplifies sounds. With today’s technology, aids also allow for Tinnitus Management System integration to assist with a veterans hearing problems. The program is called “Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM)”, and is offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The type of hearing aid that a veteran will receive will depend on the severity of hearing loss, and the type of smartphone you have. Veterans with a tinnitus rating are also eligible to receive a VA assistive device.
This can be any device that is used to compensate for a veterans visual, hearing, or mobility impairment. Examples of assistive devices include computer screen readers or pillows that provide white noise sounds.
Through the PTM, many white noise devices can be used to ease your permanent condition. Just make sure that when you complete and win your VA claim, that you immediately go to the audiologist and explain your hearing problems.
Other VA Benefits for Veterans with VA Rating for Tinnitus
Other benefits that are available for veterans with a tinnitus rating include the following: – Receive disability compensation compensation benefit: This is an ongoing monthly payment made by the VA.
How to Apply for the VA Rating?
There are 3 things you must address to receive a VA rating for Tinnitus:
- A current diagnosis (This can be established at the C&P examination).
- An event in service
- A nexus letter or statement tying the event or aggravation to the current diagnosis.
Event or Aggravation from Service: First, you must be able to relate tinnitus directly with your military service. If you can’t state that Tinnitus started in service, you must find a secondary service connection. The most common way to proving service connection is to write a lay statement that describes when you tinnitus began.
Military Service members typically do not need to use veterans advocates to apply for this additional monthly cash benefit. If you are able to submit your va claim online, then you should just need medical records showing you have tinnitus, and lay statements, and buddy letters.
It is important to establish if your service records reflect your hearing related issues and noise exposure.
Write a lay statement for Tinnitus
In order to establish service connection with the Department of Veterans Affairs, you must show your theory of service connection. For most veterans, this will be a direct service connection. Meaning that you had excessive noise exposure while on active duty.
It is important to mention what your MOS was while in service. The VA uses the Duty MOS Noise Exposure Listing to determine the probability of your tinnitus being service related. If you we in an MOS that scales at moderately or highly probable noise exposure, your event will be conceded (recognized) by the VA.
>>Click here to see more information on writing a lay statement for Tinnitus<<
Tinnitus is a very common occurrence in military veterans, but does not need to be debilitating. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are many treatments available to help you manage the condition and regain control of your life. If you have tinnitus as a result of your service in the military, you may be eligible for a VA rating. This can provide financial assistance with medical bills and other services related to your tinnitus. The Blue Cord Patriots offer a free consultation to assist you with your Tinnitus VA Claim.