Hearing loss is the second most common VA disability claim, following tinnitus. However, the process of getting approved for benefits is not easy. Many veterans are only able to access disability benefits after an attorney assists with their appeal.
Getting a Diagnosis
It is not enough to be told by your primary care provider that you suffer from hearing loss. You need a diagnosis from a licensed audiologist that includes two specific tests:
Puretone Audiometric Test.
This test evaluates your ability to recognize tones at different volumes.
Maryland CNC Test.
This test evaluates your ability to recognize when someone is speaking to you.
If you currently use hearing aids, you should remove them before the tests are performed. For the purpose of applying for VA disability benefits, your hearing should be measured without the aid of assistive devices.
Establishing a Service Connection
To establish a service connection, you must show proof of an in-service event that caused your hearing loss. This could be a specific combat injury or work in conditions involving frequent exposure to loud noises. For example, hearing loss is common in military occupational specialties involving mechanical work on vehicles and aircraft. You will need to submit a medical nexus opinion from a healthcare provider stating that your hearing loss is “at least as likely as not” due to your time in the military.
Obtaining a Disability Rating
The VA will assign a disability rating based on the severity of hearing loss as measured by the Puretone Audiometric Test and the Maryland CNC Test. There is a table referred to as the “Numeric Designation of Hearing Impairment Based on Puretone Threshold Average and Speech Discrimination” used to assign a Roman numeral designation based on where the percentage of speech discrimination and Puretone threshold average intersect. Each ear is rated separately, and then the results are combined to obtain a single disability percentage. The table system for rating hearing loss is outlined in 38 CFR § 4.85 - Evaluation of hearing impairment.
Ratings for hearing loss can range from 0% to 100% in 10% increments. A veteran with a 100% rating will be reviewed for entitlement to special monthly compensation. A veteran with a rating of 60% or more for a single disability or a total disability rating of 70% that includes two or more disabilities with one disability rated at 40% or more may be able to receive Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
Do You Need to Speak With a Veterans Benefits Lawyer?
If you need to speak with an experienced veterans benefits lawyer, please contact us online, or call our Virginia Beach office to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia, including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, and Suffolk.