Updated: May 17
American veterans file over one million VA disability claims annually. The health conditions that are detailed in these applications vary. Otolaryngologic (Ear nose and throat) disorders are some of the most common disabilities experienced by veterans. In fact, over 1.3 million veterans are currently receiving disability compensation for hearing loss.
Conditions like tinnitus are among the most commonly associated disorders related to hearing loss in veterans. Meniere’s disease is also a very common cause of hearing loss in the men and women that served in the United States military. Below is more important information about VA disability claims and Meniere’s disease.
What is Meniere’s Disease?
Meniere’s disease is a condition that affects the inner ear. Many people with this condition have issues involving balance and hearing loss. This condition is caused by fluid build-up in the inner ear. The labyrinth, a vital part of the inner ear, is where this fluid resides. This part of the ear is where structures that support balance and hearing are located.
The more fluid build-up in this part of the ear, the harder it is for nerve signals to reach the brain. The slower this nerve signal delivery gets, the higher the probability of vertigo and hearing impairment becomes.
Meniere’s disease is generally considered a chronic condition and many experts believe that this condition is caused by environmental factors like exposure to jet fuel and noise exposure. These factors make military veterans highly susceptible to this condition.
BLUF: If you service connected for Tinnitus, the VA is already conceding acoustic noise trauma occurred during your service (In most cases). It is reasonable to assume that if you have Meniere’s disease that this may ALSO be related to your in-service acoustic noise trauma in many cases!!
In fact, an article titled A Case of Post-Traumatic Meniere's Disease, published in 2014 in the Korean Journal of Audiology, reports that, “Post-traumatic Meniere's disease (PTMD) is Meniere's syndrome that develops after acoustic or physical trauma.
Meniere’s Syndrome Symptoms You Need To Know About
Veterans diagnosed with Meniere’s disease may experience symptoms like:
Significant hearing loss
Dizzy spells (vertigo)
If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, you may consider following up with a healthcare professional for evaluation. Generally, your healthcare professional may consider an audiometric exam. During this process, you may have testing related to the function of the inner ear which may include videonystagmorgraphy, Rotary Chair Testing, Vestibular Evoked myogenic potentials testing, MRI’s, blood work, a speech discrimination exam and/or a pure-tone test.
Establishing a Service Connection
If you want to get your VA disability claim for Meniere’s disease approved, you have to establish that the condition has a relationship to your service. If you were diagnosed in service and continued to suffer from the disorder, that may prove to be a straightforward process. If the condition is secondarily related to another condition or arose over time in a delayed manner it may be more troublesome. Receiving an independent medical opinion can help you establish this connection. This type of medical opinion can be procured through your private medical provider, the VA or a company like Prestige Worldwide Medical Consulting. This type of medical evidence can help you prove that your inner ear problems caused by Meniere’s disease are related to your service and can help to establish a service connection in some cases. While the rating criteria for this disorder is always subject to change, you may find more information by reviewing the content included in the 38 Code of Federal Regulation regarding this issue.
If you are interested in an independent medical opinion in support of your VA disability claim, the professionals at Prestige Worldwide Medical Consulting are here to help. If you have any questions related to the claims filing process or administrative actions of the claims process, follow up with a legal professional like an Accredited Claims Agent, VSO, or Accredited Attorney.