For many veterans across the nation, serving on active duty resulted in lifelong health complications. While there are a variety of impairments associated with active duty military service, issues affecting the ear, like hearing loss or tinnitus, are especially common. Whether in active combat, performing training exercises, or just handling daily tasks, serving in the United States military often exposes individuals to extremely loud noises.
If you experienced damage to your ears as a result of an in-service event, you could be entitled to receive disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). However, the VA routinely denies these claims on the basis of clerical errors regardless of whether an applicant actually qualifies. Discuss veterans’ hearing loss and tinnitus claims with an experienced VA physical conditions claims attorney on our team.
Hearing loss is characterized by a person’s diminished ability to recognize sound. Like with many medical conditions, there are various degrees of hearing loss. Some cases of hearing loss are a minor inconvenience, while others prevent a person from hearing anything.
Tinnitus, on the other hand, involves a consistent ringing or buzzing in the ears as opposed to the absence of sound. Tinnitus typically results from an ear injury or exposure to loud noises. In fact, one ear injury that causes hearing loss can also lead to tinnitus. For the purpose of VA disability benefits, hearing loss and tinnitus are distinct disabilities that could result in two separate ratings.
Proving entitlement to VA disability benefits involves providing a diagnosis from a medical professional which indicates that the applicant is suffering from hearing loss or tinnitus. A hearing loss claim generally requires an examination by an audiologist to determine whether the former servicemember’s ear(s) can no longer pick up certain frequencies. There are specific tests required by the VA to reach this diagnosis.
Next, a disabled veteran must identify an in-service event that could have caused their hearing loss. While some cases of hearing loss are tied to a single incident, others result from long-term exposure to loud noises. In other words, a veteran’s hearing loss can sometimes be attributed to a series of events during active duty service.
It is not necessary to identify to the particular moment where the damage occurred, only that the events which could have caused the hearing loss took place during active duty military service. Examples could include explosions, small arms fires, and mechanical work.
To receive disability compensation from the VA for hearing loss or tinnitus, a former servicemember must establish a connection between their ear injury and their time on active duty. This means establishing a medical nexus between the in-service event and the current diagnosis. A nexus is a medical determination that the hearing loss diagnosis is directly linked to one or more in-service events.
If you are suffering from hearing loss or ringing in your ears due to your active duty military career, you have the right to seek disability benefits through the VA. While veterans’ hearing loss and tinnitus claims are often denied, the right legal counsel could help you prevail on an appeal in any state.
Let an attorney on our team help you obtain the compensation you need. To learn more about your rights following a hearing loss diagnosis, set up a consultation today.