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Understanding Tinnitus as It Relates to VA Disability Claims


According to statistics, veterans make claims for issues of and related to tinnitus more than any other type of disability in the VA system. In 2015, over 160K claims for this condition were made.


If you want to learn more about this condition, what it is caused by, and your right to file a VA disability claim, keep reading.


Tinnitus Explained

Some people say that tinnitus is “ringing in the ears.” This is partially true. This condition is defined as any perception of an external noise that is not really there. This includes ringing sounds, but it can also be clicking, swooshing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, and ongoing (chronic tinnitus) or acute (temporary tinnitus).


It is important to note that tinnitus is not a disease. Instead, it is a symptom of some type of underlying condition. Usually, if you have tinnitus, you deal with a sensorineural reaction in the brain because of damage in your auditory system or ear.


The Main Factors Related to Tinnitus

Hearing loss – regardless of if it is noise-induced or age-related – is often related to tinnitus. Sometimes, you may notice the tinnitus, but not the actual hearing loss. Your brain will begin to receive fewer external stimuli. With this process, changes with specific frequencies are how the brain fills in the auditory gaps created.


There are other potential causes of tinnitus, too. These include:


· TMJ

· Trauma to the neck or head

· Obstructions in the ear

· Sinus pressure

· Barometric pressure

· Ototoxic drugs

· TBI


How Can You Prove Tinnitus?

You may wonder how you can prove something that only you are able to hear? An audiologist will have protocols and tests that are designed to diagnose and evaluate how severe your tinnitus is. Since tinnitus is commonly linked with hearing loss cases, undergoing a hearing test is necessary along with the tinnitus testing.


The VA and Tinnitus Disability Claims

The VA standards related to hearing loss disabilities are determined by the results of the tests mentioned above. Usually, you are given various rating percentages to determine if you qualify for benefits for the condition.


Nexus letters can be helpful at times. For example, did you hear louder sounds when working with or near explosives or gunfire or close to a flight line? These types of exposures are included in a nexus statement and provide evidence and proof of the cause of your tinnitus.


How Do You Handle Cases of Tinnitus?

If you believe you have tinnitus, consider following up with treating clinician. While there is no treatment for this condition, you must ensure it is not a symptom of another treatable condition. If you believe your tinnitus is service-connected, it is time to take action. Being informed and knowing what to expect when dealing with a tinnitus claim can help you navigate the process successfully.

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