In addition to triggering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), prolonged exposure to gunfire, explosions, or other loud sounds can lead a Veteran to develop tinnitus. Service connecting both conditions is essential to maximizing a Veteran’s total disability compensation.
How Tinnitus Is Related to PTSD
Tinnitus refers to experiencing a sensation of clicking, hissing, buzzing, or ringing in the ears when there is no external noise to cause the sound. Symptoms can be sporadic or constant, and they frequently interfere with sleep or the ability to concentrate on daily tasks.
Tinnitus can occur with or without hearing loss. Hearing loss and tinnitus are considered two separate conditions because hearing loss diminishes your ability to hear sounds that are present, while tinnitus causes you to hear sounds that are not present.
Tinnitus is the top VA disability claim, and approximately one in three Veterans with PTSD also suffer from tinnitus. In many cases, tinnitus can worsen PTSD symptoms because the sounds a Veteran hears with tinnitus are known to trigger flashbacks and PTSD-related anxiety.
How Service-Connected Tinnitus Affects Your Total Disability Rating
The maximum disability rating for tinnitus is only 10%, even if your condition affects both ears. However, service-connecting tinnitus can increase your total disability rating to result in additional monthly compensation. If your PTSD symptoms cause significant impairment, adding tinnitus to your file may make you a candidate for Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefits.
If you have more than one service-connected condition, keep in mind that ratings aren’t simply added together to obtain your total disability rating. VA math is based on the premise that a Veteran can never be more than 100% disabled. Conditions with lower disability ratings are subtracted from the percentage total left after your primary disability is calculated.
Get the VA Disability Benefits You Deserve
VA disability law is notoriously complex, but you don’t need to accept a rating that doesn’t sufficiently account for all of your symptoms. Contact the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, to request a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help.