Getting covered for hearing loss from Veterans Affairs (VA) claims isn't easy. There's a rigid threshold of hearing loss to receive disability's monetary compensation and medical assistance, but there are so many forms of hearing loss that impact leading a normal life (or continuing a military lifestyle for that matter). Proving that hearing loss is connected to the military can be hard, but with some claims filing insight and an audiology team on your side, you may see benefits rolling your way sooner than expected.
Proving Service Connection
The VA's disability program is different from Social Security in that VA disability is compensation rather than a helping hand toward recovery. You're being paid for what you've sacrificed and survived through, and there's no reason not to take the compensation; the money has already been allocated for veterans, and the better off you are, the more you can continue to help your country as a civilian or if the call to service comes again.
You need to prove that your hearing loss--or any injury--is related to military service and that you're currently suffering. When it comes to hearing, the easiest way to succeed with a disability claim is to have hearing loss results that the VA deems worthy of compensation and reporting the issue as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the easier it is to blame the problem on something other than the military.
If the VA doubts that your hearing problems are connected to the military, you have another problem on your hands. You'll need to explain how the hearing loss occurred, and the easiest way to do that is by showing your occupational hazards.
Occupational Hazards And Private Sector Support
Some occupations have higher hearing loss risks than others. Although there's a giant, growing list of job codes across all parts of the Department of Defense, situations such as aircraft maintenance, working near loud machinery, being part of a mortar team, or working with explosive ordnance are easily understood as hearing risks.
Some situations may be obvious upon inspection, but not conclusive proof. Combat roles have hearing risks, since gunfire and explosions are loud, but there's no shortage of counterarguments. Hearing protection should be worn, but what if that makes it harder to hear something behind you?
Working with alarm systems can create shrill, direct and long-term hearing damage, but how can you prove that you worked around those alarms? The issue here isn't that you can't prove your involvement, just that the average military servicemember working for the VA or non-veteran officials may not have any idea that you had exposure.
Getting help from civilian professionals is important at this point. You'll need to get your own hearing loss report from a non-VA audiologist as a second opinion, and you'll need to look up the machines and workspaces that you've dealt with. Showing the hearing loss along with your occupational hazards, as well as showing the combat situations you've been exposed to, can increase your chances of being approved.
It isn't over yet! Even if you're approved for VA disability, you may not mesh well with the hearing aid selection. Keep in contact with your audiology team by getting a VA referral to get continued care and hearing aids as needed. Hearing conservation and more personally-tailored devices, as well as a great customer relationship sponsored by the VA can make life a lot easier. For more information, contact County Hearing And Balance or a similar location.