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How Is Tinnitus Tested By The Va For Compensation Purposes?


ArmyVet97B

Question

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.

Edited by RonS (see edit history)
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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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No real tests for Tinnitus. Your self-described symptoms, MOS are basically what it comes down to. If your MSRs show combat exposure and your MOS backs up your exposure claim, shouldn't be hard to get SC.

To the best of my knowledge, all Military Branches incorporated hearing protection beginning around 1975 or so. In mid 60's no hearing protection was offered to Marines other than Air-wing. I think it was the same for Army. After 1975, Hearing protection was mandatory for all non combat firearms training. It will come down to how plausible your linkage to your Service Exposure is.

With that said, if you've had substantial Exposure to LOUD Noise since your service days, that could be a bit of a problem.

Semper Fi

Gastone

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Tinnitus comes in two forms: subjective and objective. In subjective tinnitus, only the sufferer will hear the ringing in their own ears. In objective tinnitus, the sound can be heard by a doctor who is examining the ear canals. Objective tinnitus is extremely rare, while subjective tinnitus is by far the most common form of the disorder.

The sounds of tinnitus may vary with the person experiencing it. Some will hear a ringing, while others will hear a buzzing. At times people may hear a chirping or whistling sound. These sounds may be constant or intermittent. They may also vary in volume and are generally more obtrusive when the sufferer is in a quiet environment. Many tinnitus sufferers find their symptoms are at their worst when they’re trying to fall asleep.

...................Buck

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you need to let your C & P examiner or Audiologist Know you have constant sounds inside your head (''in my ears you think'') and it drives you crazy you( need this documented.)

I would not say it comes and goes...say its constant. tinnitus is constant & sometimes its masked by certain everyday sounds and you don't realize your hearing it.

.......................Buck

Edited by Buck52 (see edit history)
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So it seems from the replies so far, as long as I describe that I hear the ringing in my ears quite often and that it definitely affects my life, which it does and it has, I should at least receive the 10% for tinnitus, since the determination is subjective and that the tinnitus is from my combat in OEF and that I have a combat action badge on my dd214 as proof?

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I know for mine, I had hearing tests which showed hearing loss, for which I was rated 0%. However, on the tinnitus, a lot of depended on the ringing/white noise that I was able to describe and the frequency during the examination. A key also is if you were in an MOS/AFSC, etc. that would subject you to extreme noise, such as a firing ranges, aircraft flightlines, engine rooms, etc.

I don't think that they performed any particular "test" on me for tinnitus, but through the totality of the hearing tests, my interview and my career field, and the frequency of and resulting effects of the tinnitus, were what the VA used to justify my 10% rating for this condition.

Mark

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ArmyVet,

Look up FAST LETTER 10-35, it has all MOS/Career Fields that were/ may have been exposed to noise. there are three stages-severe, moderate and non existant (or something along those lines). If your MOS was in the severe to moderate range this letter will add weight to your claim but, depending on your examiner, is not a slam dunk win. Take a copy of the Fast Letter to your C&P exam and show the examiner your MOS in the table have them make copies and add it to your file and maybe even submit a copy yourself to ensure it gets into your C-file. As mentioned above tell the examiner how the tinnitus affects you daily whether its during the day or even at night.

Good Luck

Scotter

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Why is there another Thread about dang Tinnitus? We all know that most don't have it, but seek Compensation for it, as the VA grants it most of the time. And for the ones that have it, all the VA will do is look to see where served and What MOS, and ask a few questions, That's It. Sorry for the Rant, but man I am tired of Vets that post these simple questions, over and over again. Good luck

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It took me a few years to get 10% for my tinnitus and 3 different VA Audiologist and Private Audiologist, seems that tinnitus is not caused by hearing loss, its only associated with hearing loss & noise induced hearing loss bilateral, because its perceived to becoming from inside the ears. when actually its inside the head.

My tinnitus drives me nuts at times and keeps me from sleeping.

I don't think a veterans is lying when he reports these sounds in his head.

There are'' mask'' machines that help some veterans & some treatments but nothing seems to help mask my tinnitus

Tinnitus is not a cause of hearing loss. It may point to issues with the ear itself or the hearing loss may be a normal symptom of aging. There are many conditions which may affect the inner ear and cause hearing loss. These range from hardening of the bones in the middle ear to inner ear tumors. Constant loud noise or an extreme noise incident may cause the nerves which transmit sound to the brain to be damaged. This will cause hearing loss as well. The tinnitus will generally occur after the hearing loss happens and will not directly cause loss of hearing.

Tinnitus in itself is not a serious medical issue. It may indicate other medical issues and a doctor should be consulted. There are many causes of tinnitus and there are treatments for tinnitus available. While it does not cause hearing problems, the loss of hearing may enable tinnitus to manifest. A doctor should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of tinnitus.

I wish I didn't have my dang tinnitus. it sucks!.

..............Buck

Edited by Buck52 (see edit history)
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I haven't seen the stats on Navy04's claim that we all know most don't have it but claim it anyway. Would like to know if there are any hard numbers available, or if this statement is merely anecdotal or an opinion.

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Scotter 04, my mos is listed as "low" for noise exposure, but my noise exposure came from combat in oef, which is listed on my dd214 along with my CAB, as I was always on missions outside the wire with infantry units and around artillery, heavy machine guns, and ied blasts.

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Same here Armyvet,

only it was in Vietnam years & years ago.

but my noise induced hearing loss came years later, although I had a c&p examiner opine my hearing was tested when I was separated from service and showed no hearing loss at that time which was a lie, because that audiologist at my seperation just check it off my separation list,as most did when I was getting things check off the list, I still have a copy of that list it was used as part of my evidence to prove my hearing loss, but I never claim my hearing was bad back then and never had a claim in for it,like I said it was years later before I started having hearing problems and was tested then.

Edited by Buck52 (see edit history)
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A bud I was stationed with in DC now works at RO in a position he calls, Simple Claim Resolution. He reviews most of the Tinnitus and Hearing loss claims filed. He told me that Tinnitus is granted 99% of the time if the Vet worked in an MOS that is on an Official VA List, Vet served in War, or has SC Hearing Loss issues. Not saying that anyone has or does not have Tinnitus, but we get this question atleast once a week. All we can do is go in there be honest with Exams, and either be granted or not.

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I was surprised to read that a lot of Vets on here, have had a lot of issues trying to get the tinnitus SC'd. It was one of my first ones, was easy as P I E, no questions asked. At my C&P for hearing, which was initially rated 0%, they asked what my MOS was, I said, Airwing Maintenance, KC-130s and CH-53s. They asked about hearing protection, I said yep, but you can't wear them in the workshop, cuz you can't hear the phone or hand held radios. So when the fast movers are going down the line, straining for the air...especially the EA-6Bs...so dang loud your ears would be going in and out, overloading with the noise.

But that was just my experience.

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I might add just because you tell an audiologists or an ENT you have ringing /buzz, white sound (HUMMS) ect,,ect don't necessarily mean your going get 10% for it. although 10% is all one or two ears is rated at.

.....................Buck

Edited by Buck52 (see edit history)
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New Meat, Boots and VA SC Claims. There is no such thing as a "Stupid Question" post. If your not sure, ask the question, another Vet will point you in the right direction.

Hadit is a Vet helping other Vets site. New members not making the mistakes Senior members made, is what it's all about.

Semper Fi

Gastone

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So 1) my lay statement of recurrent ringing in both of my ears that has affected my daily life, even though the ringing started after my separation from the army, 2) the ringing is from artillery, gunfire, and ied blasts, while in oef, and 3) the service connection coming from my combat in oef with proof on dd214 of oef and my combat action ribbon.....it sounds like I have a solid/pretty much guaranteed tinnitus claim of 10%.

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