Many veterans suffer from hearing loss as a direct result of your active duty military service, and you might be wondering how to get VA disability for hearing loss.
Hearing loss and hearing related problems such as Tinnitus are some of the most common service-related medical issues veterans suffer from.
According to medical research, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to suffer severe hearing impairment.
Most of the hearing loss cases in the military typically occur as a result of prolonged noise exposure from things such as flight lines, aircraft, bombs, tanks, gunfire, combat deployments, and training incidents, among many others.
Unfortunately, hearing loss can have a debilitating long-term effect on veterans that prevents them from leading a normal life.
If you sustained any hearing loss resulting from your service in the military, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation, but you must first file a VA disability claim for hearing loss.
While some VA disability claims are clear cut, it is not always easy to prove or to connect them to service incidents, and hearing loss VA claims are difficult to get service connected.
In our experience, hearing loss is one of the most difficult VA disability claims to get service connected.
In fact, VA disability claims for hearing loss are very commonly denied or receive a low VA rating for hearing loss.
The following factors must be established for a veteran to prove that their hearing loss VA claim to the VA and get it service connected:
- A medical diagnosis of hearing loss confirmed by an audiologist in the audiogram (VA hearing test).
- You must have evidence of an in-service injury or incident that occurred in service that might have led to your hearing loss, this is also known as the “Nexus.”
- Current symptoms of hearing loss into the present day, which we call “severity of symptoms” at VA Claims Insider.
How do I win my VA hearing loss claim?
It is highly recommended you obtain a medical Nexus opinion for Hearing Loss completed by qualified medical provider.
This will help you win and service connect your VA disability claim for hearing loss, even if you’ve been denied in the past.
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That’s exactly what we do for veterans inside our VA Claims Insider Elite program!
If you need a medical nexus letter for your VA hearing loss claim, click HERE to complete our free 3-step intake.
How does the VA define hearing loss?
Hearing loss, deafness, or impairment refers to the complete or partial inability to hear sounds.
Hearing loss may be slight, moderate, severe or profound.
Someone that is suffering from slight hearing loss may only have issues understanding speech, particularly when there is a lot of noise.
If you’re suffering from moderate hearing loss, you may need assistance in the form of hearing aids.
However, if your hearing loss is severe or profound, you may have an extremely difficult time communicating with other people as you may not be able to discern most noises that you are exposed to.
What is the difference between hearing loss and deafness?
Hearing loss refers to one’s reduced ability to hear and discern sounds and noises in the same manner as other people.
Deafness, on the other hand, takes place when one cannot understand speech even when the sound is augmented.
There are 3 main types of hearing loss that consist of:
1. Conductive Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when vibrations are not transmitted from the outer ear to the inner ear.
Conductive hearing loss is very common, and it occurs as a result of:
- Ear infections that lead to inflammation
- Problems with the ossicles
- Defective eardrum
- Accumulated ear wax
2. Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by problems occurring in the inner ear or as a result of brain damage.
Sensorineural hearing loss typically occurs over time as veterans get older.
Another common cause of Sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to intensive noises, principally the high-frequency ones, over a long period of time.
Once Sensorineural hearing loss occurs, it cannot be repaired.
3. Mixed Hearing Loss
When veterans suffer from mixed hearing loss, it means that they have a combination of Sensorineural hearing loss and Conductive hearing loss.
When one has mixed hearing loss, he or she can undergo surgery to restore normal hearing, although this outcome is not always assured.
The military, in general, is a high noise setting.
The ever-present extreme volumes of background noise, as well as the intermittent sounds produced by flight lines, aircraft, explosions, and gunfire, among many others, are the perfect recipe for hearing loss to occur in veterans.
But just because you are suffering from hearing loss does not mean that you will receive compensation by VA standards.
You will have to prove that you do have hearing loss of some form after undergoing an examination by undergoing a controlled speech discrimination test and a pure tone audiometry test.
Both these exams must be given by a state-licensed audiologist for them to be used in the claims process.
What is the difference between Hearing Loss and Tinnitus?
Tinnitus, also known as “ringing in the ear syndrome” is very different than hearing loss.
Tinnitus is normally a very subjective VA claim, and veterans either have it or they don’t.
Hearing loss, however, is a very objective VA claim, and an audiologist will measure your hearing loss at various decibels and frequencies to determine your VA rating for hearing loss.
According to the 2018-2019 VA disability claims data, Tinnitus was the most commonly claimed disability for all Veterans with 157,152 compensation recipients. 93.6% of Veterans were rated between 0% and 10%.
Your Tinnitus VA Claim can only have one VA rating.
It is either 10% or nothing.
Therefore, we call it a “low-value” claim, because it is always rated at 10% or nothing with no exceptions.
Your hearing loss VA rating depends on a number of factors, which are listed below.
What is the typical VA compensation for hearing loss or other ear conditions?
Tinnitus VA Rating
Tinnitus is either rated at 10 percent or nothing. There is no unilateral or bilateral factor for your Tinnitus VA rating.
Meniere’s Disease VA Rating
Veterans will receive a 100 percent rating if your Meniere’s disease includes vertigo and cerebellar gait more than once a week.
Veterans will receive a 60 percent rating if your Meniere’s disease includes vertigo and cerebellar gait one to four times per month and a 30 percent rating for less severe symptoms, which occur less than one time per month.
Inner Ear Disorders VA Rating
Inner ear disorders are very common in veterans, and these disorders can lead to nausea, dizziness, balance issues, vertigo, cerebellar gait, and even vomiting in severe cases.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, the VA rates inner ear disorders at either 10 percent or 30 percent.
Loss of Ears VA Rating
Veterans will receive a 30 percent VA rating for the loss of one ear.
Veterans will receive a bilateral factor and a VA rating of 50 percent for the loss of both ears.
Eardrum VA Rating
Veterans will receive a 0 percent VA rating for perforated eardrum.
Total Hearing Loss VA Rating
Veterans with total hearing loss in both ears are eligible for Special Monthly Compensation.
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About the Author
Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).
Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start.
As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.
He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).