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Tinnitus Service Connected but Hearing Loss Denied

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ErcIm97

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Hello,

I’m new to the community and wanted to get some advice. I’m service connected for Tinnitus but was denied Hearing Loss due to my hearing not meeting the requirements at the time of testing. I later developed hearing loss and now wear hearing aids in both ear. I was planning on doing a VA claim for hearing loss again but didn’t know what I should do… has anyone had this experience? I have Audiograms from both VA and personal ENT showing proof of Hearing Loss and my ENT also documented that it was likely due to my service in the Gulf War. I didn’t know if I needed to file a supplemental claim or submit a new claim….

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As you have documentation that the hearing loss has increased I would file a 21-0995 Supplemental claim form. i would use Form 20-10208 Document Evidence Submission to submit you evidence.

 

Is a Supplemental Claim the right decision review option for me?

A Supplemental Claim may be the right option if you meet the requirements listed here.

You must meet both of these requirements:

And you must meet at least one of these requirements:

  • You have new and relevant evidence to submit, or  
  • You’re requesting a review of your claim based on a change in law (such as the PACT Act)

What we mean by “new and relevant” evidence 

  • New evidence is information you didn’t submit to us in the past (or didn’t identify for us to gather)
  • Relevant evidence is information that proves or disproves something in your claim

Unless your Supplemental Claim is based on a change in law, you’ll need to submit supporting evidence that’s new and relevant for your application to be complete. You can also identify evidence you’d like us to gather for you.

Note: If you have new and relevant evidence, you can also request a Board Appeal. But this process will take longer. 

 

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Was your denial within the most recent 12 months?  If it was, an appeal would be better than a supplemental claim, relative to the effective date.  However, it may not matter "too much" if your hearing loss is rated at zero percent, because a SC hearing loss rated at 0 percent and a denied hearing loss pays at exacty the same per month:  $0.00 per month.  

There are at least 2 possible reasons for your denial, and you maybe should get to the bottom of which one it is:

1.  The audiologist made a mistake and your hearing loss was worse that the test showed.  Not impossible.   This is fixable with another audiologist (favorable opinion) where their test showed your hearing loss was actually worse than the exam showed.  The audiologist equipment for testing is not always perfect, either.  

2.  The audiologist was correct, but the rating specialist made a mistake either through a computer error or by one or more errors hand calculating the hearing loss rating. (Its complicated!)  This should be fixable upon an appeal with either a bva appeal, or possibly an HLR, as long as you dont need new evidence.  

     Generally, I rarely recommend filing a supplemental claim when the Veteran is in the appeal period (tho there are exceptions) and suggest appealing instead to preserve the effective date.  

     However, I will venture a "guess" that if your hearing loss was at a low level, your most likely percentage was 0 percent.  Many Vets are rated at 0 percent, (hearing loss) even with some significant hearing loss.  I wore hearing aids for a long time and was still rated at 0 percent (after I appealed the denial).  I appealed that, too, and it got raised to 20 percent. 

    All this said, I agree with Rattler because it may not make much difference whether you file a supplemental claim or appeal, if you are rated at 0 percent (likely, if you did not even meet the threshold before that). And, the supplemental claim may go faster.    But, while there is a temptation to simplify the answer, I do think its better to let the Vet know of all his options before deciding, rather than filling in blanks for the Veteran that may or may not apply to him. 

    There are, however, sometimes while even the effective date of a zero percent rating can make a difference elsewhere.  For example, if you have other conditions, some of which may be secondary, such as depression or meniere's diesease, then the effective date of your hearing loss could limit those secondary effective dates.  

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Around 12 to 15 years ago, VA published a brochure about hearing loss.  It explained, among other things, that hearing loss leads to depression.  There are very good reasons for that, and, I may add its possible, but can be difficult to get MDD secondary to hearing loss.  VA did not like the idea of them publishing a book that could be used against them for Vets seeking depression secondary to hearing loss, so they ceased publishing this "hearing loss manual".  

To get your mdd rated secondary to hearing loss, you will need a nexus, or statement from a doctor that its at least as likely as not that YOUR mdd is related to your hearing loss.  

Helen Keller, both blind and deaf, explained it rather well.  When asked if she could have her vision OR her hearing restored, which would she choose (only one).  She said, somewhat suprisingly, she would choose to have hearing restored over her vision.  She explains that blindess seperates people from "things" (objects).  However, hearing loss seperates people from people.  

Its well known people isolated and seperated suffer depression, such as those in solitary confinement.   Its very depressing to feel alone and isolated, which is what deafness does.  

As an example, I can not understand my grandchildren at all.  They have high pitched voices, and I have no clue what they say, about 70 percent of the time.  So, I pretty much can not communicate and can not have a relationship with my grandkids.    I watch my spouse, who has a wonderful relationship with our grandkids, because, she can engage them in conversation and I simply can not. 

Grandchildren dont come with close captioning.  

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I second what @broncovet said. I have hearing loss rated at 0% and am service connected for tinnitus at 10% (the only rating allowed). From my understanding, the regulations set the bar fairly high to be compensated for hearing loss. The regs were probably written by someone who didn't know what hearing loss is like. That being said, it is what it is and appeal or supplemental claim may be necessary. I have found that my hearing aids help and would recommend getting a pair from the VA.

Semper Fi,

Sgt. Wilky

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Thanks for all the great advice and information. It’s been over a year so I think I will need to file this as a supplemental claim. I did read that hearing loss has a high threshold to even get compensation. I have a VA Apt next week and will ask for a referral to see the Audiologist again and get an updated hearing test done before I file just to see if my hearing got worsened since the last test. I do also have other secondary claim under tinnitus: migraines, anxiety/depression, insomnia. I believe the anxiety/depression & insomnia has to be evaluated under mental health. I think these would be easier to get vs the hearing loss.

 

 

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