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Veterans Law

Ringing in the Ears? You May Qualify for Veterans Disability

March 27, 2017
Updated: January 19, 2022

Even if you have not seen active combat, you have probably experienced ringing in your ears at some point, whether it was after going to a loud concert or participating in any activity that involved noise loud enough to impact the cochlea, which is a small organ situated in the inner ear.

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is usually not a permanent condition.  Nonetheless, it can be very irritating and distracting. In addition to noise exposure, tinnitus can also be caused by blockages, infections, Meniere’s disease, and a host of other conditions, including injuries to the neck and head.

Symptoms include:

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Whistling

Veterans Experience Extreme Exposure To Noise

Symptoms of tinnitus can be more pronounced at night when one is lying down to sleep simply because it is quieter. For veterans on active duty, however, quiet may not be something experienced very often.  For this reason, a veteran may not even notice tinnitus symptoms until after service.  After months of noise exposure to gunfire, loud machinery, armored vehicles, or other combat-related noises, it’s no wonder tinnitus and hearing loss are common conditions from which veterans suffer. For the civilian who has suffered blockage or an infection—or perhaps a few hours of loud noise—it’s entirely possible that tinnitus can be turned around due to time and healing or therapy.

Service members are exposed to loud noise on an almost basis, and tinnitus can lead to other medical issues such as fatigue from lack of sleep, anxiety, irritation, and more. Men over the age of 65 are most prone, and while there are some white-noise devices and other machines that are meant to overcome the condition more naturally, medication can also be prescribed.

“Because tinnitus has many causes, many of which are outside the audiology scope of practice, the approach to tinnitus should be interdisciplinary,” explained Dr. Paula Myers, Audiology Section Chief at the Tampa VA Hospital, shared in recent information from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

“Some of these services are performed by audiologists and some are referred to appropriate professionals. The goal is not to silence tinnitus, because there is no cure. Rather, the goal is for patients to learn to self-manage their reactions to the tinnitus.”

Tinnitus – The Most Common Veterans Disability Claim

Tinnitus is the most commonly claimed disability for VA compensation, but it is never given a rating of more than 10 percent, no matter the severity for either or both ears. The current consensus is that a lot can be done to relieve tinnitus in terms of the symptoms, despite the damage that may have been done.

In applying for disability for tinnitus, veterans generally only must give their statement of the condition along with connection to exposure to noise in service. There may be the request for a diagnosis of the condition as well. If you have questions about disability or an appeal, contact us at Chisholm, Chisholm & Kilpatrick. With many years of representing service members and veterans around the US, we have the experience to help you gain the benefits you deserve.

For immediate help, call us at 401-331-6300 or contact us online.