Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ears, is the most common VA disability claim. While tinnitus alone is not usually enough to warrant full VA disability benefits, it can often increase a veteran’s awarded benefits when it comes as a secondary symptom of a more serious condition. Nonetheless, it can be frustratingly difficult to “prove” you have this condition. In these cases, it helps to have an attorney manage your case. The Chicago VA disability benefits attorneys at The Comerford Law Office can help you prove the required elements of a tinnitus claim.
Simply put, tinnitus is a noise in your ear that may come and go periodically or is always present. For most people, this symptom presents as ringing, but other types of sound are also associated with tinnitus. The majority of claims are related to “subjective” tinnitus, which is a sound that only the patient can hear. In some cases, the sound actually exists, but these account for only 1% of tinnitus claims.
Tinnitus is a commonly-reported ailment, but veterans are overrepresented when it comes to tinnitus injuries, making it the most common disability claim.
Proving your tinnitus claim will be directly related to providing evidence of one or more risk factors. For military veterans, these risk factors are plentiful. Exposure to loud noises on a daily basis, head injury, pressure injuries related to flying or diving, psychiatric conditions, and aging are all risk factors for tinnitus.
You cannot prove that there is a ringing in your ear that only you can hear. However, you can prove you were exposed to specific conditions that make tinnitus more likely.
Tinnitus claims are related to a number of other claims, such as psychiatric injury, head injury, or chronic exposure to loud noises. In most tinnitus claims, you will find a primary disability with tinnitus rated as a secondary disability. It is important to understand that the VA awards benefits based on a percentage system. Tinnitus rates at 10%. A 10% disability rating would qualify a veteran for compensation of about $150 per month.
It is helpful to have an official diagnosis from a doctor in your medical records before you apply for benefits. You will also want to submit evidence related to any other hearing disability you have. While you do not have to prove to a 100% medical certainty that your tinnitus could only be caused by your military service, you will need to establish that there is a legitimate service-related connection between your current symptoms and your military service.
VA disability claims for tinnitus are often denied due to the complexity of documenting this condition. When this happens, The Comerford Law Office helps veterans file VA disability appeals based on tinnitus. If your VA disability claim was denied, call our office today to learn more.
Further reading: 3M ordered to pay $50 million related to defective earplugs.
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