While it might not be considered a life-threatening condition, tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can negatively impact your daily life significantly. Because tinnitus is typically the result of an underlying condition, having it can be considered a disability.
If you are military vet living with tinnitus and want to prove that it is linked to your time in service so you can get a disability claim approved, here are some tips to help you out.
Subjective Versus Objective Tinnitus
The type of tinnitus that you have been diagnosed with can make a difference when it comes to proving your case for disability. With subjective tinnitus, the ringing is caused by the brain’s inability to properly process nerve signals. Because the brain perceives these signals as sound, you would hear ringing that is not detectable by anyone else.
However, with objective tinnitus, which is very rare, it can be caused by problems with your blood vessels or muscle contractions, and the ringing can be heard by your doctor. Because most of the people who suffer from tinnitus have the subjective version, proving that you have the condition can sometimes be challenging while linking it to military duty can be even more challenging.
1. Linking Tinnitus to Military Service
Although tinnitus can be tricky to prove since it isn’t typically something that anyone can hear but you, it is necessary that you prove how it came about as a result of your service. For starters, you would need to have tinnitus at the time of your claim, and detail what happened while you were on active duty that caused or contributed to your tinnitus.
You can submit personnel records as a way of proving that you have been exposed to certain risk factors for tinnitus and submit your medical records as well. Your medical records should show that you weren’t diagnosed with tinnitus prior to you being in-service or exposed to certain conditions.
Tinnitus is becoming one of the most claimed conditions by veterans simply because the military environment tends to have tinnitus-causing elements. Things such as the following may cause tinnitus:
- Loud gunfire
- Injuries from explosive devices
- Combat-related loud noises
Keep in mind that it might be a long while after you’ve completed your military duty that you begin to experience any symptoms of tinnitus. This is partly because while you are on active duty, it is not often that you are in a very quiet environment where you are able to notice the ringing in your ears.
Luckily, there is not a statute of limitations when it comes to filing for this type of VA disability benefits.
2. Learn How the VA Disability Calculator Works
The types of benefits and amount of payout you will receive each month are determined by a number of factors, one being the severity of your condition. This is important as it determines just how debilitating your disability is to your everyday life, and how it affects your ability to earn a decent living.
With tinnitus, you will typically receive a rating of 10 percent; however, if you have other service-related injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they can be included in your claim calculations as well. Your rating will get a boost and so will your monthly payout.
3. Claiming Secondary Conditions
Dealing with tinnitus can be very emotionally taxing as having such a disability is not easy to deal with. Because you might be dealing with depression, hopelessness and a host of other mental health issues as a result of tinnitus, you will more than likely have to add other conditions to your claim.
However, it is important that any secondary symptoms you experience as a result of tinnitus be properly diagnosed and documented by a medical professional. The severity of the diagnosis will influence how much monthly payments you will receive.
Dealing with any kind of disability is not only difficult because of proving the disability itself, but also because of the process you must go through in order to receive the VA benefits.
Although most veterans focus on proving just their diagnosis and a link between the condition and their military service, you can easily build a stronger VA tinnitus case if you learn how the VA disability calculator works (more details in the link) and how adding secondary conditions to your claim can greatly improve the outcomes.
This article is a collaboration with a freelance writer and follows The Haitian Times publishing guidelines
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