Qualifying for Veterans Disability Benefits with Tinnitus: What is the Tinnitus VA Rating?

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, tinnitus is the #1 disability among veterans. In fact, it affects at least 1 in 10 American adults. Tinnitus makes you hear buzzing, ringing, or hissing sounds when it’s otherwise silent. This condition makes it harder to concentrate and complete day-to-day tasks. Many vets suffer exposure to loud noises during active military duty. Below, we’ll share tips for filing your VA disability claim.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is present. It’s often described as a ringing, buzzing, humming, hissing, or roaring sound. Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic and may vary in intensity. It can affect one or both ears and can be constant or intermittent.

There are various causes of tinnitus, including exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, earwax buildup, certain medications, ear infections, and underlying health conditions such as Meniere’s disease or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Sometimes, the exact cause of tinnitus is not identifiable.

While there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are treatments and strategies to manage it, such as sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and addressing underlying health conditions. Management approaches vary depending on the individual and the severity of their symptoms. If you’re experiencing tinnitus, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

Causes of Tinnitus in the Military

Tinnitus is a common issue among military personnel due to exposure to high levels of noise during training exercises, combat situations, and while operating machinery and equipment such as firearms, aircraft, and heavy vehicles. This exposure to loud noises can damage the delicate structures of the inner ear, leading to tinnitus and, in some cases, permanent hearing loss.

Additionally, military personnel may be exposed to other risk factors for tinnitus, such as head injuries, blasts from explosions, and exposure to environmental toxins. These factors can contribute to the development or worsening of tinnitus symptoms.

Moreover, the stress and psychological strain associated with military service can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms for some individuals. The combination of physical and psychological stressors can make managing tinnitus challenging for military personnel.

Is Tinnitus Eligible for VA Disability Benefits?

Yes, tinnitus is recognized as a disability by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and veterans who experience tinnitus as a result of their military service may be eligible for disability benefits. The VA considers tinnitus a compensable disability if it can be linked to military service.

To qualify for VA disability benefits for tinnitus, veterans need to provide evidence demonstrating that their tinnitus began or worsened during their time in the military. This evidence can include medical records, service records documenting exposure to loud noises or other risk factors, and statements from healthcare providers linking the tinnitus to military service.

Who’s Eligible to File a VA Disability Claim?

Before filing your tinnitus VA disability claim, check to see if you’re eligible. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, only veterans discharged or separated from service under honorable conditions can file eligible claims. In addition, your tinnitus must link back to an injury or illness that occurred active military duty.

Military veterans applying for disability benefits must prove their condition comes directly from active service. First, collect all medical evidence related to your diagnosis. It helps if your doctor can vouch that you have a service-connected disability.

What’s the VA Disability Rating for Tinnitus?

The Veterans Affairs Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) system helps establish your occupational earning capacity with certain service-related conditions. The VA disability rating for most physical as well as mental disabilities range anywhere from 0%-100%. If your medical condition isn’t listed, the VA uses a similar condition that is listed to determine your rating.

The VA lists tinnitus under Section 4.87, Schedule of Rating–Ear. Recurrent tinnitus gets a 10% VA disability rating. Here is what the VA looks at while evaluating your VA disability claim:

  • A separate evaluation may be combined with an evaluation under diagnostic codes 6100, 6200, 6204, or other diagnostic code, except when tinnitus supports an evaluation under one of those diagnosed codes.
  • Assign only a single evaluation for recurrent tinnitus, whether the sound is perceived in one ear, both ears, or the head.
  • Objective tinnitus is not evaluated under this diagnosis code, but may be evaluated under an underlying condition.

Knowing the tinnitus VA rating is important, since it impacts the payout you’ll get for your disability. If you can list multiple conditions in addition to tinnitus, such as hearing loss, you’re much more likely to qualify for disability compensation. And take heart, you’re not alone! Nearly 40% of pending VA disability claims today list eight or more unrated, service-connected conditions. Fewer than 1 in 3 first-time applicants list less than seven disabilities on their VA compensation claims.

How Much VA Disability Compensation Do You Get for Tinnitus?

The amount of VA disability compensation for tinnitus varies depending on the severity of the condition and its impact on the veteran’s life. Compensation rates are determined based on a rating scale ranging from 10% to 100%, with higher ratings corresponding to more severe symptoms. As of 2024, the monthly compensation for tinnitus ranges from approximately $171.23 for tinnitus alone to $3,737.85 for a 100% rating.

VA Disability Rating Payments By Severity

  • 0% disability rating: $0.00 per month
  • 10% disability rating: $171.23 per month
  • 20% disability rating: $338.49 per month
  • 30% disability rating: $524.31 per month
  • 40% disability rating: $755.28 per month
  • 50% disability rating: $1,075.16 per month
  • 60% disability rating: $1,361.88 per month
  • 70% disability rating: $1,716.28 per month
  • 80% disability rating: $1,995.01 per month
  • 90% disability rating: $2,241.91 per month
  • 100% disability rating: $3,737.85 per month

Get VA Disability Benefits for Tinnitus With a VA-Accredited Lawyer

If your VA disability claim’s denied, get a VA-accredited attorney to file your appeal. In the last few years, 4 in every 5 disabled vets prevailed against the VA in court with help from their lawyers. Attorneys can help you collect proper medical evidence, check your claim status, and fight the VA without charging you anything up front.

Ready to see if you may qualify for legal assistance fighting the VA? Click the button below to start your free online disability benefits evaluation now!

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Shay Fleming is the SEO Content Manager at LeadingResponse. A proud graduate of Texas State University, she has been based in Austin since 2016, where she lives with her dog. Shay has contributed extensively to various domains, writing and publishing articles about real estate, investing, disability, and urban living.