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How Is Tinnitus Tested By The Va For Compensation Purposes?


ArmyVet97B

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I am trying to understand how I will be tested for tinnitus by the VA. I have a pending compensation claim for hearing loss and tinnitus (and a couple other things) that is in stage 5 (preparation for decision). I am now awaiting a C&P exam (I believe). I am already S/C for shoulder and lower back (20% total). How is tinnitus tested by the VA to receive the 10% rating? I served in OEF and have a Combat Action Badge (all on my DD214). I have hearing loss, but what happens if I pass as “normal” for hearing loss. I have occasional ringing in both ears from OEF (artillery/heavy machine guns/IED’s), and it has gotten worse over time. My tinnitus came later after I had separated from the US Army. I am trying to understand how I am tested for tinnitus to received the 10%, even if I get 0% for hearing loss (which I have heard is very difficult to get above 0% for hearing loss). With my claim I submitted my civilian primary care physician’s professional opinion that I could definitely have/probably do have hearing loss and tinnitus from combat. I have read/heard differing opinions, and I am just trying to find a straight answer to how tinnitus is tested for by the VA (since I see that some vets get 0% for hearing loss, but 10% for tinnitus). And what are my chances of getting the 10% for tinnitus even if I get 0% for hearing loss? Great, good, not good, etc? Please help. Thank you.

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Tinnitus is one of those things that can be tested for in some circumstances since it can be caused by certain damage to the ear and its associated parts. However self reported tinnitus (ie i hear ringing in my ears) without any physical damage to the associate parts (im not a doctor and dont remember the exact lingo) does happen alot to people who are exposed to loud noises often. Its impossible to disprove since its a subjective report. where you get 0% or 10% (10% is maximum allowed by law) is how it affects you. If you are impaired by it, say by having to have things repeated, it keeps you up at night and you need the tv on or white noise to fall asleep. if you report ringing in your ears but there is no impact, ie you sleep fine, it doesnt bother you etc. you will get 0%.

hearing loss and tinnitus can be related but one is not required for the other. I have hearing loss, from my MEPS audiogram to my current ther is a significant change HOWEVER it is wihtin what the VA considers nomral limits still (tell that to my wife and co workers that i can hear fine...). I was denied bilateral hearing loss but was granted 10% tinnitus. Remember that you also can get hearing aids if you have tinnitus. They gave me ones that are for helping hearing but also produce a fine white noise to help with tinnitus, so the hearing aids help with my hearing but was for tinnitus so im happy with it since i got what i needed to help me hear better, albeit in a roundabout way.

As far as your civilian doctor goes... tell them that they need to give you a report about your hearing and tinnitus that uses the words "more likely than not" related to loud noises experience in service during combat operations. If you leave it vague, like "could have" that can be interpreted as being less than 50% sure, if so than no dice son.

what was your MOS? if you were field artillery, anything involving a job that was around loid noises, mechanic, artillery, engineer, etc.

having the CAB will help alot to establish in service nexus.

whats your aduiogram say? are you within VA limits for "normal range" of hearing, if so, you will jsut need to wait 20 years to refile when your hearing is gone gone.

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For my hearing C&P, I had the audiogram test, then a test where I had to repeat what I heard in the ear phones. Midway through the test, the examiner asked if my ears were ringing right then. I told him they always ring. I also wrote a comprehensive statement in regards to my rating and job in the CG:

(1). My first small boat unit was Station ******. I was stationed there from 1990 to 1993. During this time frame I was a Seaman Apprentice and advanced to Seaman. While stationed there I was a certified crewmember on a 44’ Motor Life Boat (MLB), certified crewmember on a 41’ Utility Boat (UTB) and was certified crewmember on a 22’ Non Standard Boat (NSB-Boston Whaler). Both the MLB and UTB are diesel powered vessels, and the NSM was a single motor outboard gas powered vessel. I would typically be underway on these vessels for a combined duration of at LEAST 10 hours per duty period. During this time frame I was constantly exposed to diesel motor noise, outboard motor noise, wind noise and water rushing noise.

(2). My second small boat unit was Station *******. I was stationed there from 1993 to 1997. During this timeframe I was a Seaman and advanced to Boatswain’s Mate, Third Class. While stationed there I was a certified crewmember on a 44’ MLB, certified crewmember on a 41’ UTB, certified crewmember on a 24’ Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and certified crewmember on the new 47’ MLB. Station Gloucester was chosen as a new platform test site for the 47’MLB. Both of the MLBs and the UTB are diesel powered vessels, and the RHIB was a twin motor outboard gas powered vessel. I would typically be underway on these vessels for a combined duration of at LEAST 10 hours per duty period, with extended periods of up to 10 hours per DAY. During this time frame I was constantly exposed to diesel motor noise, outboard motor noise, wind noise and water rushing noise.

(3). My third small boat unit was Station ********. I was stationed there from 1997 to 2000. During this timeframe I was a Boatswain’s Mate, Third Class and advanced to Boatswain’s Mate, Second Class. While stationed there I was a certified coxswain on a 41’ UTB and certified coxswain on a 21’ Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). The UTB is a diesel powered vessels, and the RHIB was a single motor outboard gas powered vessel. I would typically be underway on these vessels for a combined duration of at LEAST 10 hours per duty period, with extended periods of up to 10 hours per DAY, and at least 2 occasions that were over 10 hours. During this time frame I was constantly exposed to diesel motor noise, outboard motor noise, wind noise and water rushing noise.

(4). My fourth small boat unit was Station ********. I was stationed there from 2000 to 2004. During this time period I was a Boatswain’s Mate, Second Class and was advanced to Boatswain’s Mate, First Class. While stationed there I was a certified coxswain on the 47’ MLB, certified coxswain on a 41’ UTB, certified coxswain on a 21’ Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB). The MLB and the UTB are diesel powered vessels, and the RHIB was a twin motor outboard gas powered vessel. I would typically be underway on these vessels for a combined duration of at LEAST 10 hours per duty period, with extended periods of up to 10 hours per DAY. During this time frame I was constantly exposed to diesel motor noise, outboard motor noise, wind noise and water rushing noise.

(5). After my active duty discharge, I was re-enlisted into the US Coast Guard Reserves and was attached to the Station ******* Reserve Unit, of which I was attached to from 2004 until my retirement in 2011. During this timeframe I was a Boatswain’s Mate, First Class and advanced to Chief Boatswain’s Mate. While serving as a reservist, I stood duty one weekend a month, with an active duty period for at least two weeks during each fiscal year. During that time frame, I remained operational until 2010. While I was operational, I was certified coxswain on the 47’ MLB until 2008, certified coxswain on a 21’RHIB until it was replaced in 2005, and was certified coxswain on its replacement; the 25’ Response Boat, Medium (RBS) Defender Class until 2010. The MLB is a diesel powered vessel, the RHIB was a twin motor outboard gas powered vessel and the RBS was a high horsepower twin motor outboard gas powered vessel. I would typically be underway on these vessels for a combined duration of at LEAST 8 hours per duty period, with extended periods of up to 10 hours per duty period. During this time frame I was constantly exposed to diesel motor noise, outboard motor noise, wind noise and water rushing noise.

During all of my career, active & reserve, I certified on all personal defense weapons on a regular 6 month training rotation, to include the Beretta M9 9mm pistol, Remington Shotgun 870 (old), Remington Shotgun M870P (new), M16A2 select fire rifle, and SigSauer P229R-DAK .40cal pistol. I also attended yearly M240 certifications. During all I wore the proper hearing protection (that was supplied).

Along with the statement, I supplied the VA with 21 years of range reports, as well as 21 years of u/w records. I went into the process making sure I covered as much as I could.

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I just want to understand the tinnitus process for compensation so that I have realistic expectations. My VSO said I should get the 10% for tinnitus even with normal hearing. I want to make sure I say the right things in the c&p exam as to my on-and-off again ringing in both ears. So is there anything I should/should not say at the c&p exam (of course I am not talking about lying)? USMC_vet, are you saying that the tinnitus rating Will be purely subjective based on what I say along with my CAB proving that I was around gunfire/artillery/ied's? Even though my tinnitus came about post-active duty? I personally know the tinnitus had to have come from combat with no ear protection.

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