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December 11, 2023

VA Tinnitus Rating Increase: Are Changes Coming?

Last updated on February 18, 2024

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In 2024, there is no VA Tinnitus Rating Increase potential.


Because the VA rates Tinnitus at either 10% or nothing at all.

There is no higher or lower VA rating for Tinnitus.

But all that could end as the VA looks to change how it evaluates and rates Tinnitus with a target date for final rule publication of April 2024.

How Does the VA Currently Rate Tinnitus?

How Does the VA Currently Rate Tinnitus

Currently, the VA rates Tinnitus under CFR Title 38, Part 4, the Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Diagnostic Code (DC) 6260 Tinnitus, Recurrent.

The rating is either 10% or nothing at all.

There is also no bilateral rating factor for Tinnitus.  

Will I Be Able to Get a VA Tinnitus Rating Increase?

Right now, there is no path to increase a VA rating for Tinnitus.

However, that could change in the future, depending on the origin and severity of your Tinnitus.

There are also possibilities for high-value secondary conditions to Tinnitus and other diagnostic codes that can be rated up to 100%.

Also, keep in mind Vertigo and Meniere’s Syndrome (if you think you might have either of these conditions).


Because VA ratings for Vertigo range from 10% to 100% with breaks at 30% and 60%.

And VA Ratings for Meniere’s Syndrome are 30%, 60%, and 100%.

Is the VA Changing How It Rates Tinnitus?

Yes, the VA has proposed changes to how it will evaluate and rate Tinnitus.

In my opinion, these changes are bad for veterans, and the easy 10% rating for Tinnitus could soon be gonzo.

The proposed changes would remove the separate VA rating for Tinnitus under DC 6260, and instead, rate Tinnitus only as part of its underlying pathology with Hearing Loss.

For instance, DC 6100 will provide a 10% evaluation for Tinnitus associated with Hearing Loss only when Hearing Loss is non-compensable at 0% (e.g., only when Hearing Loss, on its own, does not warrant a 10% evaluation or higher).

If Hearing Loss is compensable at 10% or more (e.g., warranting a 10% evaluation or greater), an additional 10% evaluation for Tinnitus associated with the Hearing Loss shall not be assigned.

DC 6100, Hearing Loss with Tinnitus as Associated with Underlying Hearing Loss:VA Rating
If Hearing Loss is evaluated at 0% and Tinnitus is diagnosed as associated with underlying Hearing Loss.10%
Otherwise, evaluate using the Hearing Loss Tables. 
Note (#1): The 10% evaluation is only applicable to tinnitus diagnosed as associated with non-compensable service-connected hearing loss. Tinnitus diagnosed as associated with another service-connected disability (i.e., Meniere’s disease, residuals of traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebral arteriosclerosis, vascular neurocognitive disorder) must be evaluated as a part of that disability without a separate evaluation for tinnitus under diagnostic code 6100. 
Note (#2): Tinnitus will only be compensated as part of an underlying service-connected condition.

Why is the VA Changing the VA Ratings for Tinnitus?

The VA asserts these changes are to better align with current medical practice.

For example, the Mayo Clinic says:

“Tinnitus is usually caused by an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, an ear injury or a problem with the circulatory system. For many people, tinnitus improves with treatment of the underlying cause or with other treatments that reduce or mask the noise, making tinnitus less noticeable.”

While not intended by the VA, prior rulemaking created the impression that Tinnitus is an independent condition, rather than a symptom associated with an underlying condition.

The VA’s intent with the proposed revision is to accurately restore the medically-supported relationship between Tinnitus and an underlying pathology, which is better aligned with current medical practice.

Will the New Tinnitus Rating Criteria Impact My Current Rating?

No, any change to how the VA rates Tinnitus will not impact a veteran’s current service connected disability rating for Tinnitus under DC 6260.

You will be “grandfathered-in” under the old rating system.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

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).

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