Hearing loss may not seem like a combat-related injury, but thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are learning otherwise. Prolonged exposure to dangerous or repetitive noise levels has been shown to cause hearing issues that qualify as veterans’ disability conditions.
Hearing Loss is a Widespread Problem
A soldier does not have to be deployed to suffer hearing damage. From combat to control tower, hearing damage due to environmental factors such as repetitive noise may be a risk in a number of military roles.
According to Army audiologists via a Raleigh News & Observer report, at least one fourth of veterans who served in the Iraq or Afghanistan areas now suffer some degree of hearing loss. Over time, these veterans’ hearing abilities are expected to worsen naturally with age, which can increase the severity of hearing damage from military service.
Tinnitus – ringing in the ears – and hearing loss are now a common veterans’ disability seen on disability benefit applications. Recent reports from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that among the 805,000 veterans who began receiving disability benefits in 2011, close to 148,000 were compensated for this condition.
This topped the list of veterans’ disabilities, with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) next on the list with 42,700 claimants that year.
Preventing Hearing Loss During Active Duty
The military is working on several methods of protecting soldiers’ hearing during active duty. One of the major issues causing hearing damage is not a lack of preventative measures, but rather educating and convincing the soldiers to use the equipment according to an audiologist quoted in the News & Observer article.
Soldiers undergo regular hearing tests and prior to deployment a benchmark test is done to record hearing accuracy. Upon return, the soldier’s hearing is reevaluated to see if any change occurred. Positive tests are conducted again to make sure they are accurate and not just a temporary condition such as fluid in the ear. When a solider is known to have suffered hearing damage, steps are taken to prevent further damage.
Applying for Benefits for Disability
After a diagnosed case of hearing problems related to military service, a veteran may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits through the VA. The severity of the condition and its impact on a veteran’s life will be determining factors in his or her disability rating. Other factors such as type of assignment and area of deployment may also factor into the disability rating.
If you or a loved one has applied for disability related to hearing loss and received a denial or unfair disability rating, contact the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group Our attorneys are here to help veterans with initial disability benefit claims or existing cases. 1-855-855-8992.