Out of all the injuries veterans file claims for with the Department of Veterans Affairs (or the VA), tinnitus is the most common. Due to the duties required of military service members, this injury occurs quite often in people who have been involved in combat situations for extended periods. If you believe that you may have a basis for filing a tinnitus claim with the VA or think that you may be a valid plaintiff in the 3M Earplug Lawsuit, talk to an attorney knowledgeable about VA claims and the 3M lawsuit today.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition which is characterized by a series of buzzing, clicking, roaring, hissing, ringing, or other noises in the ears. Sometimes it can be misdiagnosed as hearing loss, but it is caused by damage to the eardrum. It occurs in veterans because of the loud percussive noises many of them are exposed to during their time in combat overseas.
There are two different kinds of tinnitus: subjective tinnitus and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is the most common form of tinnitus and can be described as a person’s perception of sound when no acoustic stimulus is present. Subjective tinnitus also requires that these perceptions of sound can only be heard by the patient.
Objective tinnitus, on the other hand, is more uncommon in general and is, therefore, harder to prove to bodies like the VA. Objective tinnitus usually results from excessive amounts of noise generated by structures near the ear, and occasionally it can be loud enough to be heard by the examiner. In general, tinnitus can be difficult to prove and even more difficult to link to military service.
Causes of tinnitus
If you served in a part of the military that exposed you to a great deal of noise from combat zones, flight line noise, training programs, and head trauma, you might be at a higher risk for tinnitus.
Tinnitus can also be caused or triggered by conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, vertigo, and depression.
Filing a tinnitus claim with the VA
Before you file your tinnitus claim with the VA, you will need three different pieces of documentation. First, you will need a medical diagnosis of your condition from a physician or other medical professional.
You will then need a separate document called a Nexus Letter. This letter is written by an evaluator whose job it is to link your case of tinnitus to your past military service. If you cannot link your development of tinnitus to having served in the military, the VA will not hear you claim, and you will receive no payout.
The third part of documentation necessary to prove a VA claim for tinnitus is evidence of how your tinnitus has affected your life. The VA considers when you first noticed the symptoms of your tinnitus, how it has affected you, and the extent to which it has impacted your quality of life.
It is essential to file your tinnitus claim as soon as possible as you start experiencing the relevant symptoms. It becomes harder to make a successful claim with the VA, the longer you have been out of military service. Any letters of support from people in your life who have witnessed your struggle with tinnitus are also valuable when filing your claim.
Filing a claim with the VA for tinnitus, if done correctly, can result in the compensation necessary for an increased quality of life after suffering this condition at the hands of the military. An experienced and skilled attorney will be able to help you gather the materials necessary for filing your claim and will do their best to ensure that you receive the compensation and justice you deserve.