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Should I file for an increase or new claim

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x020574

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I served in USAF, as a  Jet Engine Mechanic (AFSC 43250), from 1970-74. My VA medical records contained an entrance hearing test and an exit hearing test. The exit test showed a hearing loss at high frequency ranges. I was given hearing aids (very grateful) and was service connected,  0% for hearing loss and 10% for tinnitus. That was in 2006.

 

Fast forward to 2019 – I was referred to an Non-VA ENT specialist after a routine VA audiologist became concern about a significant drop in my R side conductive hearing test. I had a CT scan which  reveals that I have cholesteatoma in both ears (extra skin growth where it doesn’t belong). Surgery is the only recommended fix, sooner rather than later, it only gets worse. I had the R ear surgery last week, good news is he got it all out… but the bad news is the surgeon had to remove 2 and ¾ of my 3 tiny hearing bones. The 2nd half of the surgery will be in 3-4 months, where they will try to restore some of my R ear hearing. Then we will start on the L ear, I pray it is not as bad as the R was. I am still 0% SC for hearing but I want to put in a claim for increase, hoping since I’m already established SC for hearing loss, I’ll only need a diagnosis and hoping I won’t have to jump through hoops to get it SC.

 

Question 1: Someone told me there is a table that raters will use to aid them is accessing a claimants MOS when considering hearing related claims. I did not see 43250 listed, does anyone know what the new code equivalent is ?

 

Question 2: Should I ask for a speedy review (fast track).

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  • HadIt.com Elder

X020574 You don't have to look up MOS as it relates to your hearing loss. It only is relevant when determining the probably of hearing loss due to what your typical exposure would be while in service. You are already s-c for hearing, albeit at 0%. Your ok. You are referring to this:

http://www.militarydisabilitymadeeasy.com/Duty MOS Noise Exposure Listing.pdf

Yes you should submit a claim for increase. You have to submit new evidence as your hearing has gotten worse, and, quite possibly, you might have to submit again once your second operation is completed. By "speedy review", if you are referring to HLR, Higher Level Review lane, no, because you can't use that choice and submit new evidence. Get it going now to establish your EED. Or, you might consider filing an Intent to File instead right now and wait for the results of the second surgery. 

 

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5 hours ago, x020574 said:

I had a CT scan which  reveals that I have cholesteatoma in both ears (extra skin growth where it doesn’t belong).

My question is, how is this related to your SC hearing loss? Does this condition happen because of your hearing loss or tinnitus? Remember you must meet the Caluza Triangle

1.  Current Diagnosis.   No diagnosis, no Service Connection.  

2.  In Service Event or Aggravation.  

3.  Nexus, or Doctor's Statement close to: "The Veteran's (current diagnosis) is at least as likely due to x Event in military service"  

I got them from the internet:

"A cholesteatoma can happen for several reasons: You get an ear infection or injury. Sometimes after an operation on your ear, a cold, or an allergy, your Eustachian tube doesn't work normally. A vacuum is created in your middle ear, which sucks in your ear drum, making a sac -- the perfect place for skin cells to collect. Cholesteatomas caused by ear infections are the most common kind.

You have a problem with a Eustachian tube. If the tube that connects your ear and your nose doesn't work the way it should, your eardrum can't handle changes in pressure well. That can make it collapse and become a pocket. Skin cells build up in the pocket and form a cholesteatoma.

It forms when you do. In rare cases, cholesteatomas start while babies are still developing. Part of the lining of the ear gets trapped inside bone as it grows. These are usually found early in childhood."

Here is the link https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/qa/what-causes-a-cholesteatoma

Does your service records show you had middle ear infections? What does your doctor say that caused this? Did your ENT doctor say it was service connected (if you did not ask you would want to when you see them again)?

 

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GB Army is spot on.  Apply for an increase using the supplemental claim.  Remember, "speedy" is relative.  To VA who moves in Geologic time (years and decades), I doubt you will get it done any faster with HLR, and, you lose the ability to submit new evidence.  This is important, as you may have evidence in your file your hearing got worse earlier.  

The good part about increase is you are right, you dont have to revisit the issue of SC.  However, be careful what you say to the audiologist, because you "can" put that issue in doubt.  Now, you dont ever want to lie to VA, but dont voluteer information that may not help you.  For example, if you shoot for sport after service, it might be a good idea not to mention that as VA could decide that caused your hearing loss and not military service (even tho you shot way bigger guns that make much more noise in service).   

As I explained, dont ever lie, but dont volunteer stuff that may hurt your claim.  Dont answer questions that were not asked of you, but keep focus on getting an increase.  

The VA tried to do that to me, essentially digging for evidence to deny.  Even tho they are not supposed to do that, the VA does not follow its own rules.  If they did follow their own rules consistently, then we would have to shut down the BVA and CAVC because there would be nothing for them to do.  

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I dont know if the cholestoma is sc, you are sc for hearing loss.  Unless your audiologist has opined that is also related to service, I would not stir up that can of worms.  Just ask for an increase, dont try to get cholestoma sc.  

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  • HadIt.com Elder

Cholestoma is rated at diagnostic Code 6200 at 10%, so if you have the right diagnosis from your doc, the right/appropriate words, etc., you should have a good chance. The question is: is your hearing affected enough that you would be rated just on hearing HIGHER than than 10%? You have to have another hearing test anyway. If they don't give you one at a C&P, ask for it. Remember, they are supposed to give you the highest rating possible after reviewing all the disability options.So don't get short changed if you should be rated more just under hearing loss.

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17 hours ago, x020574 said:

I had the R ear surgery last week

You should also request a temp 100% until your surgery heals... I am not exactly sure how it works with hearing issues, but for surgery on knees and other issues it depends on the amount of convalescent time you get from the doctor and how long it takes to heal. .  

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