According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Veterans are 30% more likely than non-Veterans to suffer from a severe hearing impairment—and those who served after 9/11 are four times more likely to experience hearing loss than their civilian counterparts. Due to its negative impact on a Veteran’s quality of life, service-connected hearing loss qualifies for VA disability benefits providing monthly cash compensation and access to needed medical care.
Causes of Service-Connected Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can have a number of different causes. For Veterans, however, the most common is damage to the inner ear due to exposure to loud noise over time. Loud noise causes wear and tear of the nerve cells in the ear that send sound signals to the brain.
It is also possible for a ruptured eardrum to result in permanent hearing loss. A Veteran who is near an explosion site may suffer a ruptured eardrum due to loud blasts of noise.
To establish a service connection for your hearing loss, you will need to show evidence of an in-service event that caused your condition and provide a medical opinion linking the event to your hearing loss.
How VA Disability Ratings Are Determined
The VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities rates hearing impairments in Section 4.87, using diagnostic codes 6200 to 6260. The VA awards one rating that takes into account both ears. So, even if you have hearing loss in both your left and right ear, you will still only receive a single disability rating for hearing loss.
Your disability rating is calculated by averaging the results of two tests for each ear:
- Maryland CNC Test. This test evaluates how well a Veteran can recognize speech.
- Puretone Audiometric Test. This test measures the faintest tones a Veteran can hear by asking them to wear headphones and raise their hand when they can hear a beeping sound.
Ratings for hearing loss can range from 0% to 100% and are awarded in 10% increments. A 0% rating establishes a service connection but does not qualify for monthly compensation. A 100% rating means that a Veteran is considered totally disabled. The most common rating for hearing loss is 10%.
Since VA disability ratings are assigned using a chart of test result scores, it would appear that there is little room for discretion. However, you may be able to increase your disability rating by submitting lay evidence from family and friends elaborating on the ways your hearing impairment affects your daily life.
Get Help Accessing Your VA Disability Benefits
The office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is committed to helping Veterans receive full compensation for their service-connected disabilities. Contact our office today to request a free, no-obligation consultation.