There are currently over 4.7 million disabled veterans. Of those 4.7 million, over 1.3 million of those veterans have a disability for hearing loss, and over 2.3 million have a disability for tinnitus. These are serious disabilities, and you need to learn how to file a VA claim for hearing loss and tinnitus.
File A Winning VA Claim For Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
When you file your VA claim for hearing loss or tinnitus you will need three key things:
1) A current disability diagnosis
2) Proof that the disability occurred on active duty (service-connection)
3) “Nexus” (Proof that the current disability is continuation of the active-duty injury)
Diagnosis for Your VA Claim- Hearing Loss
You must have a diagnosis for your hearing loss claim to be successful. For hearing loss- you will need to take the Maryland CNC Test or Puretone Audiometric Test. You will fail, and your claim will be rejected without a test that proves you have hearing loss. Go get your primary doctor to refer you for a test. That is where you need to start.
Diagnosis for Your VA Claim- Tinnitus
Medical experts loosely define tinnitus as having a ringing in your ears. However, it can also include other ringing, clicks, etc. The doctor cannot diagnose tinnitus with a hearing test. As a result, you will be diagnosed by your reported symptoms. Once again, it is essential that you visit a doctor and seek treatment.
Service Connection for a Winning VA Claim
Your “barracks lawyer” may have said that only certain military jobs are eligible to file a VA claim for hearing loss and tinnitus. However, that is not true. Firstly, the VA does not exclude you based on your occupation. Secondly, the VA does not automatically approve based on your occupation. As a result, you need to use personal statements, buddy letters, and your service records to prove the origin of your hearing loss or tinnitus.
Your barracks lawyer is referencing the 2010 Fast Letter 10-35 (VA Publication) which included “Duty MOS Noise Exposure Listing.” It lists out all the job titles and assigns each one a risk level for having hearing loss or tinnitus. However, this listing does not serve as the final say in a claim, but it is a useful tool.
How CC Filed a VA Claim for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Combat Craig was a Security Forces troop (3P0X1), and his AFSC (MOS for my Army readers) is moderately at risk for hearing loss and tinnitus. However, Combat Craig served on flight line guard duty, and experienced extreme noise levels during Desert Storm and Operation Provide Comfort.
As a result, he has hearing loss and tinnitus. When he submitted filed his VA claim for hearing loss and tinnitus; he referenced the Noise Exposure Listing as additional proof of his hearing loss and tinnitus being service connected. In addition, he submitted a personal statement that explained that he was in a non-standard noise level for his AFSC. You need to follow that example to prove your claim.
Nexus – Prove Your Disability Is From Active Duty
Nexus is the ultimate piece to secure victory. You need a doctor’s opinion that your current hearing loss or tinnitus started on active duty. As a result, your best action is to have the statement before you begin your claim. However, you can technically achieve nexus during your Compensation and Pension exam.
Why File For Hearing Loss? I Heard It’s A Low Value Claim
Every “barracks lawyer” has an opinion on what VA claims you should or should not file. However, the barracks lawyers are (almost) correct about VA claims for hearing loss and tinnitus. These disabilities are almost always worth 10% each. Any higher ratings are for veterans who are completely deaf or lost an ear in service. As a result, you can plan on the VA rating you at or below 10%.
However, the VA will rate separately for tinnitus and hearing loss. This would get you to a combined 20% rating. Not the most valuable claims, but it is another tool in your belt toward your goal of being 100% disabled. What if that is not your goal? That’s fine. This information is still valuable for your VA claim.
Hearing Loss Is A Work Around For Pyramiding
Too often veterans make a critical mistake. They attempt to get to 100% with only one type of claim. We frequently see someone try to get to 100% with only mental health, only musculoskeletal, only digestive system, etc. This approach ignores the pyramiding problem. As a result, they suffer from being underrated.
“Avoidance of pyramiding” is how the VA shirks on properly compensating veterans. The principle of the regulation is that the VA will not compensate you twice for the same symptom. Unfortunately, this means that veterans consistently run into issues when they over rely on one issue. Your PTSD, back issue, GERD, etc. may be the issue that causes you the most issues. However, the VA will only every give you one rating per symptom.Therefore, it is essential that you spread out your disabilities over various body parts and types to ensure the VA will properly rate you.
Hearing Aids – The $4,000 Bonus
If you haven’t needed to purchase hearing aids, you probably did not realize how expensive hearing aids can be. However, you could expect to pay over $4,000 for a pair of hearing aids. If you win your VA claim for hearing loss or tinnitus- you will receive hearing aids at no cost to you.
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