Hi Veterans, Brian Reese here from VA Claims Insider, and today, I’m revealing and explaining the Top 5 Secondary Conditions to Tinnitus for VA disability benefits and secondary service connection.
This is the ultimate guide for veterans searching for secondary conditions to Tinnitus!
According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, Tinnitus, aka “Ringing in the Ear Syndrome,” is the #1 most claimed VA disability with 1,971,201 disabled veterans with a service-connected Tinnitus rating of 10%.
While Tinnitus is only rated at 10%, making it a low-value VA claim, did you know there are 5 high-value VA disability claims (rated at 30% or above) that can be medically linked to Tinnitus?
In our experience, many veteran service officers, attorneys, claims agents, and veterans don’t even realize they qualify for a variety of additional VA disability benefits due to their current service-connected Tinnitus condition.
Because they aren’t medical experts (nor should they be), and yet, VA disability claims depend almost entirely upon MEDICAL EVIDENCE!
Tinnitus can have significant debilitating effects on veterans, often leading to a variety of other disabling conditions in veterans such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety, depression, chronic pain syndrome, and Meniere’s Syndrome, among others.
Okay, it’s time to jump into the main disability conditions causally linked to be proximately due to, or aggravated by, service-connected Tinnitus.
- How to Establish Service Connection Secondary to Tinnitus
- List of Top 5 Secondary Conditions to Tinnitus
- Migraines Secondary to Tinnitus
- Anxiety Secondary to Tinnitus
- Depression Secondary to Tinnitus
- Somatic Symptom Disorder Secondary to Tinnitus
- Secondary Menieres Syndrome Secondary to Tinnitus
- About the Author
How to Establish Service Connection Secondary to Tinnitus
In accordance with 38 CFR § 3.310 disabilities that are proximately due to, or aggravated by, service-connected disease or injury, a current disability condition, which is proximately due to or the result of a service-connected disease or injury shall be service connected.
Service connection on a secondary basis requires a showing of causation.
A showing of causation requires that the secondary disability claim be shown to be “proximately due to” or “aggravated by” another service-connected disability.
There are three evidentiary elements that must be satisfied for secondary conditions to Tinnitus to prove service connection under the law:
- A medical diagnosis of the secondary disability condition you’re attempting to link to Tinnitus AND
- A current service-connected primary disability (e.g., your current VA Tinnitus rating) AND
- Medical nexus evidence establishing a connection between the service-connected Tinnitus and the current disability you’re trying to connect (e.g., Migraines, Anxiety, Depression, Somatic Symptom Disorder, Meniere’s Syndrome)
The first part can be satisfied with any existing medical evidence in service treatment records, VA medical records, or any private medical records.
The second part can be satisfied with a veteran’s existing service-connected disability rated at 0 percent or higher, which in this case, is Tinnitus.
The third part, and often the missing link needed to establish secondary service connection, can be satisfied with a credible medical nexus letter (Independent Medical Opinion) from a qualified medical provider.
Did you know there are 5 primary high-value VA disability conditions that can be causally linked to your current VA Tinnitus claim?
Truth bomb here veterans…you could be missing out on thousands of dollars of tax-free disability benefits you deserve by law, and not even realize that you’re current VA disability might be due to your Tinnitus.
Do you deserve a higher VA disability rating?
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List of Top 5 Secondary Conditions to Tinnitus
- #1: Migraine Headaches secondary to Tinnitus
- #2: Anxiety secondary to Tinnitus
- #3: Depression secondary to Tinnitus
- #4: Somatic Symptom Disorder secondary to Tinnitus
- #5: Meniere’s Syndrome secondary to Tinnitus
Migraines Secondary to Tinnitus
Medical research suggests a connection between Headaches and Tinnitus, and the symptoms go hand in hand with many types of headaches, including migraines and hypertension. Recent results show 27% of Tinnitus sufferers also suffer from headaches.
Migraine headaches is one of the most common secondary conditions to Tinnitus.
Thus, there is some medical etiology to suggest that Migraines, and many different types of Headaches, can be proximately due to or aggravated by Tinnitus.
You’ll likely need a medical nexus letter from an independent medical professional to establish service connection for headaches secondary to Tinnitus.
Speaking of headaches, did you know there are more than 150 different types of headaches eligible for VA disability compensation benefits under the law?
While the Schedule for Rating Disabilities only lists “Migraines,” ANY type of headache can be service connected and compensated under the law if the veteran has current symptoms of headaches that interfere with work, life, and social functioning.
CFR 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities, lists Migraines under code 8100.
The Migraine Headaches VA rating scale in 2022 consists of four possible ratings: 0%, 10%, 30%, and 50%.
The symptoms become markedly more severe between at the 30% and 50% rating levels, as evidenced by the rating criteria below:
|Migraines Secondary to Tinnitus VA Rating Scale:||VA Rating|
|Migraines with very frequent completely prostrating and prolonged attacks productive of severe economic inadaptability||50%|
|Migraines with characteristic prostrating attacks occurring on an average once a month over last several months||30%|
|Migraines with characteristic prostrating attacks averaging one in 2 months over last several months||10%|
|Migraines with less frequent attacks||0%|
Anxiety Secondary to Tinnitus
Plenty of medical research studies point to the prevalence of Anxiety and Depression mental disorders in veterans with Tinnitus.
For example, a 2015 joint study in coordination a VA Medical Center in California called, “The Correlation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory with Depression and Anxiety in Veterans with Tinnitus,” revealed that a shocking 79.1% of the 91 Tinnitus sufferers had a diagnosis of Anxiety, 59.3% had Depression, and 58.2% suffered from BOTH Anxiety and Depression.
VA claims for Anxiety secondary to Tinnitus can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending upon the severity of your anxiety disorder, and how your anxiety symptoms affect your work, life, and social functioning.
For example, a veteran may only have a 10% rating for Tinnitus but could possibly receive a 70% rating (lower or higher rating possible as well) for Anxiety due to the Tinnitus.
Depression Secondary to Tinnitus
Medical research clearly points to the prevalence of Depression in veterans suffering from Tinnitus.
For example, the same 2015 joint study mentioned above, and in coordination a VA Medical Center in California called, “The Correlation of the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory with Depression and Anxiety in Veterans with Tinnitus,” revealed that a shocking 79.1% of the 91 Tinnitus sufferers had a diagnosis of Anxiety, 59.3% had Depression, and 58.2% suffered from BOTH Anxiety and Depression.
The Mayo Clinic explains that Tinnitus can significantly affect quality of life, and may lead to other conditions such as:
- Sleep problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Anxiety and irritability
Depression secondary to Tinnitus can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending upon the severity of your Depression, and how your mental health symptoms affect your work, life, and social functioning.
For example, a veteran may have a 10% rating for Tinnitus, but could possibly receive a 70% rating for Depression due to the Tinnitus.
Somatic Symptom Disorder Secondary to Tinnitus
Somatic Symptom Disorder (DSM-5), a mental disorder previously called Chronic Pain Syndrome under DSM-4, is described by The Mayo Clinic as an “extreme focus on physical symptoms, such as pain or fatigue or Tinnitus that causes major emotional distress and problems functioning.”
While Tinnitus is often quite subjective in nature, if a veteran has an extreme focus on the physical symptoms of his/her constant ringing in the ears, it can cause significant occupational and social impairment.
VA claims for Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) secondary to Tinnitus can be rated at 0%, 10%, 30%, 50%, 70%, or 100%, depending upon the severity of your somatoform disorder, and how the symptoms affect your work, life, and social functioning.
While a veteran may have a 10% rating for Tinnitus, he/she may receive a 70% or 100% rating for Somatic Symptom Disorder secondary to Tinnitus.
Secondary Menieres Syndrome Secondary to Tinnitus
Meniere’s syndrome (endolymphatic hydrops) is a disorder of the inner ear that affects both hearing and balance. It can be claimed under Diagnostic Code 6205: Meniere’s syndrome (endolymphatic hydrops). Symptoms include hearing loss, tinnitus, and dizziness or wooziness.
This condition can be rated one of two ways: once under this code, or three ratings, one under tinnitus, one under hearing loss, and one as a peripheral vestibular disorder, can be combined. Choose the rating option that gives the higher rating.
If there is hearing impairment with episodes of dizziness and staggering while walking that occur more than once a week, whether there is tinnitus, it is rated 100%. If there is hearing impairment with episodes of dizziness and staggering while walking that occur one to four times a month, whether there is tinnitus, it is rated 60%.
If there is hearing impairment with episodes of dizziness less than once a month, whether there is tinnitus, it is rated 30%. Note: Evaluate Meniere’s syndrome either under these criteria or by separately evaluating vertigo (as a peripheral vestibular disorder), hearing impairment, and tinnitus, whichever method results in a higher overall evaluation. But do not combine an evaluation for hearing impairment, tinnitus, or vertigo with an evaluation under diagnostic code 6205.
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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).