Following tinnitus, hearing loss is the second most common VA disability claim. As of 2014, 933,000 veterans were getting VA disability benefits or compensation for hearing loss, while almost 1.3 million veterans were reimbursed for disabling tinnitus, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
This number is excessively high, but the process of receiving benefits approval is not that simple.
If you’re a veteran with either of these conditions, you might be wondering how you can establish a connection between your hearing loss and your service. Keep reading to find out how to do this in order to improve your chances of being approved.
Setting Up Your Hearing Loss Service Connection
Any degree of hearing impairment or deafness is referred to as hearing loss. If you have both hearing loss and tinnitus, you may be eligible for two distinct ratings: one for hearing loss and another for tinnitus.
To establish a service connection for VA disability, you’ll need the following:
Demonstrating that you are currently diagnosed with a qualifying disorder is the first step towards obtaining hearing loss VA benefits. When it comes to hearing loss, the VA is quite particular about the types of diagnoses it accepts.
Hearing loss can be determined in a typical doctor’s office. You must, however, have a hearing test by a professional audiologist for VA purposes. To be accepted, the audiologist must perform two different tests:
- Maryland CNC Exam: This is a 50-word test that determines how effectively you identify speech and is used to assess hearing loss in veterans. The findings of this test are used by VA to evaluate whether your hearing loss qualifies for disability and, if so, how severe your condition is.
- Puretone Audiometric Test: This test measures the faintest tones you can hear in order to assess your level of general hearing loss. This is usually carried out by making you put on a set of headphones and raise your hands when you hear the beep.
The second step in establishing a direct service connection is to provide proof of an in-service event that caused or contributed to your hearing loss. Combat duty, exposure to artillery and small arms fire, and some military occupational specialties (MOS) that include mechanical maintenance on trucks, aircraft, and other vehicles are all common in-service events that may lead to hearing loss.
Medical Nexus Opinion
In order to establish a direct connection, you’ll need a medical nexus opinion that connects your in-service incident to your present, diagnosed ailment. A favorable medical nexus opinion will generally declare that your hearing loss is “at least as likely as not” caused by your service.
These three steps are critical to your hearing loss VA benefits application. Make sure to submit either one of the two accepted hearing loss tests as well as the in-service event and a medical opinion that supports your claim.
If you’re looking into VA secondary conditions that could increase your rating, here’s a helpful resource covering VA knee pain ratings for disabilities.