There is no escaping the fact that war is loud, so loud that you might not ever escape its effects on your hearing. If you’re a veteran of armed conflicts like Desert Storm, for example, your time in the service may have left you with permanent hearing damage or a constant ringing in your ears (tinnitus) that’s quite debilitating.
If so, you may be able to claim disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Applying for VA disability benefits for hearing damage
When you seek to claim VA disability benefits, they will measure your eligibility on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher you score, the more you will receive. You will need to show evidence of hearing damage provided by an audiologist that the VA approves. You will need to show proof of the event that caused it during your service, and you will need a medical opinion connecting the two.
Tinnitus is the persistent ringing in the ear that can result from exposure to loud noises, such as explosions or weapons fire. The VA treats tinnitus separately from hearing loss. If you have tinnitus you may still be able to obtain VA disability benefits, although the VA schedule only gives tinnitus a 10% rating. If you also have hearing loss, you may combine the two issues to increase the amount you receive.
Hearing damage does not necessarily occur due to one event. It can occur due to continued exposure to noise over certain thresholds. So, you could get it from one loud shell going off next to you, or you could get it from weeks spent inside a noisy ship or aircraft.
Get help with a difficult VA disability claim
Understanding how to present your VA disability claim and compile the evidence is only part of the battle to get what you are due. If your VA claim isn’t going as expected, it may be time to get some experienced assistance.