02 Aug VA Hearing and Vision Loss Ratings and Benefits
Incidences of auditory and visual challenges are rapidly increasing among our service men and women, quite possibly as a result of loud explosions, airplane engines, gunfire, and machinery. Furthermore, the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) by unauthorized forces in the Middle East creates unexpected hazards for our troops that oftentimes result in TBIs. Upon their return home, veterans seek out medical care and compensation for injuries sustained overseas, a benefit they rightly deserve but that many are finding it harder and harder to get.
Rate of Vision and Hearing Loss Among Veterans
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 28 million Americans suffer from some sort of hearing loss. Of those 28 million, more than 800,000 are service men and women. Those 800,000 individuals receive some sort of compensation for service-related hearing disabilities, such as hearing loss, hearing impairment, or tinnitus. Since 2000, an additional 1.5 million veterans filed a disability claim for hearing loss but did not qualify for compensation.
According to VisionAware, approximately 7,000 veterans become newly blinded or visually impaired each year. Of the veterans identified with eye disabilities—including problems associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI)—up to 75 percent experience short or long-term vision dysfunction, such as seeing double, blurriness, or extreme light sensitivity.
Direct Service Connection
In order to qualify for veterans’ disability benefits for vision loss, hearing loss, or both, you must be able to establish a direct service connection—meaning, you need to prove that your disabilities were a direct result of your military duty. To prove your loss is service-connected, you must be able to provide the following:
- The results of the vision and/or hearing tests done prior to you going on active duty
- A current diagnosis of a vision or hearing condition
- Evidence of a service-related event that could have caused your condition
- A medical opinion linking your current vision and/or hearing conditions with the service-related event
Disability Ratings for Hearing and Vision Loss
The VA typically rates service-related conditions in order to establish the severity of your condition and to gauge how much they believe the condition affects your ability to work and perform everyday duties. The rating is then used to determine how much compensation you may be entitled to for that particular condition.
For the schedule of ratings for auditory-related disabilities, refer to Section 4.87, diagnostic codes 6200 to 6260, in the VA Schedule of Ratings for Disabilities.
For the schedule of ratings for visual disabilities, refer to Section 4.97, diagnostic codes 6000 to 6091.
Hearing and Vision Loss Testing Requirements
Before you can qualify for veterans’ disability benefits for hearing and/or vision loss, and in order for your loss to be deemed service-connected, you must meet all of the VA’s testing requirements.
To receive compensation for service-related hearing loss, your condition must be diagnosed by a licensed audiologist, and must be diagnosed by two separate tests:
- A Maryland CNC test (which measures speech recognition ability)
- A pure-tone audiometric test (which evaluates your level of hearing loss)
To receive compensation for service-related vision impairment or vision loss, you must be examined by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist, who must use either the Goldmann kinetic perimetry or automated perimetry method of testing vision. The specialist must then record your results on a Goldmann chart, so be sure to request this before undergoing your evaluation. Furthermore, the VA requires that the specialist identify the cause of your vision impairment and record this as well.
Consult a Mt Pleasant Veterans’ Benefits Attorney
At Klok Law Firm LLC, we help veterans and their families fight for the disability benefits they deserve. Dealing with the VA can be difficult—especially when trying to receive adequate compensation for disabilities acquired during active duty. Our veterans’ disability lawyers understand how the VA works and can work with you to help you get the benefits you need and deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation with a Mt Pleasant, SC disability attorney.