Many military conditions are difficult to push through the Veterans Affairs (VA) disability system because it's hard to diagnose certain problems. Even if your hearing isn't completely gone or part of a mainstream definition of hearing loss, you may still have noticeable issues with certain tones or volumes that are hard to detect. If you've been denied after hearing tests at the VA or have been arguing the results of a hearing test, take the time to understand how a civilian audiology team can help you win the claim and continue helping after the disability award.
Differences In Exam And Perception
After leaving the military, noticing hearing loss can come in many forms. In the most drastic cases, sudden trauma to your hearing can give a fairly obvious change to what you can hear and how loud others need to be to communicate with you.
Other forms may be more subtle, such as workers in heavy machinery areas having nearly equal hearing loss with their coworkers. A service-member who works in engineering may know to speak at a certain volume with others in their career and working spaces, but once they leave the machinery area, they may struggle to hear the voices of others until their hearing normalizes.
Unfortunately, extended exposure to hearing loss risks can lead to permanent damage. Your hearing may not normalize to around the same level as before the military, creating a new "normal" that makes everyday speaking voices a faint murmur or a dampened tone. There are more complex forms of hearing loss, such as not being able to hear certain voice pitches.
In these exceptional cases, the VA may not be able to detect your hearing problem as easily. Although many VA hospitals are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, some hospitals still rely on basic hearing test rooms that measure basic ranges of hearing loss. You may have a very real hearing problem that you can perceive, but if the VA test comes back negative for hearing loss, you may receive a denial.
A Non-VA Audiologist May Be Necessary
If the VA disagrees with your hearing loss claim, get a second opinion as soon as possible. The VA will only deliver disability benefits to conditions caused by military service, and if you wait too long to get your evidence to the VA, it's too easy to dismiss your hearing loss as a problem that started after military service.
A civilian audiologist can be visited outside of your VA visits with no problem, although you may have to pay for the visit on your own. The VA will compensate for any disability-related care and testing if you're approved for disability later, so it may be worth your time.
Visit a clinic offering hearing aids and hearing tests and explain your situation. With the clinic's assistance, you can get a more accurate set of results as the clinic takes time to listen to your complaint and pinpoint data that the VA can understand. Even if a fix for your hearing loss isn't available, many veterans struggle to find simple proof that their problem actually exists.
With the right evidence and disability, you can request for the same hearing aid supplier and audiology clinic to be your referred provider. You won't have to deal with some of the horror stories about slow or insufficient VA hearing aids and medication delivery as long as you ask for the required paperwork.
For more information, contact Audiologists Northwest or a similar location.