What Percent of Hearing Loss Qualifies for VA Disability?

Having any service-connected hearing loss or tinnitus will qualify you for VA disability. However, in most cases, you will only get a 0% rating. While 10% is the average rating, it is tough to get above 0%. Your audibility needs to be really limited to get a high VA rating percentage.

Service times can be full of loud sounds, and hearing loss afterward is common. However, if your symptoms start 12 months later your service, it gets troublesome to prove that it’s service-connected. So, many may not even get VA’s approval for hearing loss benefits. But we will try our best to help you.


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What Is Hearing Loss and Why Is It Hard to Get VA’s Approval on It?

Hearing loss is self-explanatory. The person starts to struggle to hear or make out others’ speeches. And since there can be so much noise in the line of service, including deployments or gun ranges, it is easy to get this condition in the following days.

The problem is that many people get hearing loss when they age anyway. About 50% of people in the USA over 65 are affected by it. It is hard to determine whether the condition is service-connected without ample and solid evidence.

There are three kinds of hearing loss conditions-

  • Sensorineural- issues in the inner ear
  • Conductive- problems in the middle or outer ear
  • Mixed- a mixture of both cases above

Understanding Tinnitus and Its Difference from Hearing Loss

Understanding Tinnitus and Its Difference from Hearing Loss

Many mistake tinnitus to be the same as hearing loss. But they are very different conditions. Tinnitus is when someone hears ringing sounds in the ear. Of course, one can have both hearing loss and tinnitus simultaneously.

With tinnitus, it may be hard to listen to other sounds with the ringing in the ear. So, the effect can be the same as hearing loss. Hence, both can affect your life adversely. But there is a difference that makes it harder to diagnose tinnitus.

Unlike hearing loss, it is not yet possible to determine whether a person has tinnitus by testing or examination. Only the affected person can tell it. Yet, around 20% of people in the USA suffer from it more or less.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

The following are some common symptoms you may experience with tinnitus and hearing loss-

  • Struggling to make out others’ speech or words. It may happen more when there are other noises around.
  • You need to increase the volume of electronic devices to listen to them perfectly.
  • Reduced sound from different sources.
  • Having to ask others to speak slowly, loudly, or repeat themselves.
  • Ringing, humming, or buzzing sounds in the ear.

VA’s DC 6100: Eliminating Separate Diagnostic Code for Tinnitus

After VA’s proposal for the DC 6100 is accepted, patients will get one rating for both hearing loss and tinnitus. The tragic news is that one must either have only a hearing issue or both issues to get it. But many only have tinnitus and not the other. From how VA worded it, it seems any new patients with only tinnitus will not get a VA rating after this.

But any existing veteran who has their claims accepted before the DC 6100 passes will continue to get their benefits as usual under DC 6260.

You can find the official details in the 38 CFR § 4.87 – Schedule of ratings—ear.

Eligibility for VA Benefits for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

In order to be eligible for VA compensations for hearing loss and tinnitus, you need to match the following factors-

  • Any medical report from VA, private doctor, or service treatment must diagnose you with tinnitus or hearing loss.
  • The symptoms of hearing loss and tinnitus must be chronic and persistent.
  • The conditions in your ear must either be caused or worsened by any service-related event or disability. You may need a nexus letter for the latter to prove your secondary service-connected condition.

If you are unsure about your eligibility for hearing loss, get an eligibility review from VA Disability Coach to make informed choices.

VA’s Exam of Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

As we said before, VA will rate hearing loss and tinnitus with the same rating when DC 6100 passes. However, they are currently rating them separately as of the time of writing. Moreover, they also don’t rate each ear separately. However, the condition of both ears may affect the overall rating.

When you are in the C&P exam, an accredited audiologist will run two specific tests on each ear-

  1. Controlled speech discrimination test
  2. Puretone Auditometry test (PTA)

VA will assign particular percentages to the result of the first test and a number from 0 to 100 on the second test. Based on the percentage and the number, they will assign a Roman numeral number from ‘I’ to ‘XI’ on each ear. They use this Roman number to determine the VA rating for both ears.

The table below shows the specific Roman numerics VA gives for different Speech of Discrimination Percentage and PTA.

Once they get this data, they will assign your VA rating based on the numeric on each ear. Let’s continue it in the next section.

VA’s Rating for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

The following table explains the VA ratings for your hearing loss and tinnitus condition based on your C&P exam. The Roman numerics assigned to your better and worse ears will affect your overall rating.

Note that if the condition in one ear is not connected to service while the other does, then the non-service-connected ear will get the Roman numeric ‘I’. It is the same case if one of the ears has perfect hearing while the other has hearing loss.

VA Secondary Disabilities to Hearing Loss and Tinnitus

The following are some of the secondary VA disabilities to hearing loss-

The following are some of the secondary VA disabilities to Tinnitus-

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Migraine
  • Meniere’s syndrome
  • Somatic symptom disorder

Concluding Note

On the one hand, hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common disabilities many veterans and regular civilians alike get. On the other hand, these are also among the most challenging disabilities to get a high rating. Hence, be sure to get the proper evidence and be informed of the process.