Tinnitus, or persistent ringing in the ears, can be caused by exposure to loud noises that damage the inner ear. This is why tinnitus is so common in veterans, who routinely work in close proximity to gunfire, explosives, jet engines, and other loud noises. Tinnitus can make it difficult to concentrate, may be accompanied by a headache, and lead to increased levels of depression and irritability. Severe, constant tinnitus can make routine daily functioning extremely difficult. However, as established in section 4.87 of the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities, the highest possible rating for tinnitus (Diagnostic Code 6260) is 10 percent.
Our firm regularly represents veterans with severe tinnitus, who cannot work but have been unable to get a disability rating of greater than 10 percent. For these claims, our firm’s usual strategy is to petition for a TDIU rating (total disability, equal to a 100 percent rating) for “depression secondary to tinnitus,” i.e. depression caused by tinnitus. Once service connection for a veteran’s tinnitus has been established, a consultation with a mental health provider is arranged to document the mental health challenges posed by the veteran’s tinnitus. A corroborating medical opinion, along with the veteran’s demonstrated inability to work, provides sufficient grounds for a TDIU rating, with maximum monthly benefits in addition to any past-due benefits potentially owed.
If you or a veteran you know is unable to work due to severe tinnitus, our firm is ready to provide experienced support throughout every step of the process. We know from experience what it takes to prove unemployability for depression secondary to tinnitus. Our office will refer you to medical experts with experience examining veterans and providing opinions for VA disability claims, helping you navigate the bureaucracy of the VA and the healthcare system. We work hard to make sure the VA evaluates your claim properly, and there is no fee for our services until we win your claim.