The Department of Veterans’ Affairs ("VA") is tasked with conducting research that is “in connection with the provision of medical care and treatment to veterans” and focused on “research into injuries and illnesses particularly related to service.” It has failed grievously at this task, and instead has largely used its research to deny veterans' benefits.
VA’s Research on Medical Marijuana Use and Tinnitus in Veterans is Sharply Misleading
Two examples of the VA’s misuse of its research capacity are: 1) the VA’s recent studies on medical marijuana; and 2) the VA’s studies on late-onset hearing loss due to early acoustic trauma.
In regards to medical marijuana, the VA has stated that “side effects associated with its usage, including an increase in suicide, development of psychotic symptoms, and an increase in traffic accidents, outweigh any benefits to the research.” Yet, a cursory glance at other research, such as this report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, reveals that there is in fact “conclusive or substantial” evidence that medical marijuana is effective for the treatment of chronic pain.
Similarly, the VA has generated research which makes it appear that a veteran cannot develop late-onset hearing loss based on early acoustic trauma. However, I have access to other studies which demonstrate that early acoustic trauma does indeed lead to late-onset tinnitus.
VA’s Tilted Research Leads to the Denial of Disability Benefits
The VA’s use of skewed research is so dangerous because it is defining the fate of countless veterans who are living with disabilities.
When a veteran applies for disability benefits, she or he generally has to show that her or his disability is “service connected,” meaning it is “the result of an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated while on active duty or active duty for training; or from injury, heart attack, or stroke that occurred during inactive duty training.” Therefore, the VA can deny a veteran’s disability claim if it can generate research showing that the disability is not service connected. For example, the VA frequently uses the skewed tinnitus research discussed above to unfairly deny disability claims based on late-onset hearing loss.
Luckily, there is one highly-effective way to cut through the VA’s biased research and win the benefits you deserve: by hiring an experienced veterans’ law attorney.
How You Can Overcome VA Bias and Win Disability Benefits
Hiring an experienced veterans' law attorney is key to successfully appealing your claim because attorneys know what research the VA is likely to present and how to counter that research. For example, when I represent veterans with late-onset hearing loss, I always present my own research to demonstrate service connection in anticipation that the VA will use the skewed studies discussed above. This has been an extremely successful tactic for me.
If you have received a denial or an unacceptable rating decision from your Regional Office, I encourage you to contact my office right away. With decades of combined experience representing veterans in the face of VA bias, we are confident that we can win you the benefits you deserve. Send us a note or give us a call at (877) 629-1712 today.