Hearing loss has been a risk for soldiers since explosives and artillery were introduced on the battlefield, and service-connected hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are the top two disabilities in veterans. Consequently, the need for hearing aids for veterans continues to grow. On average, the VA spends approximately $50 million annually to provide over 160,000 hearing aids to veterans.
Additionally, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) states that over 800,000 veterans receive disability benefits for service-connected hearing loss, impairment, and tinnitus. For those 1.5 million veterans who are not eligible for benefits, they do qualify for treatment at VA facilities.
The VA Hearing Aids Program
In the late 1950s, the VA started its hearing aid program. At that time, over 70,000 veterans had been identified with hearing loss. In 2001, over 300,000 patients were treated by VA audiologists who issued over 240,000 hearing aids to military personnel. Today, the VA provides excellent hearing services to veterans and a variety of hearing aid options, including cochlear implants, analog, in-canal, and behind the ear.
Who Is Eligible for Hearing Aid Services?
Veterans who apply for VA benefits for hearing loss are evaluated to determine if the disability is service-related. All veterans with service-connected auditory problems such as hearing loss or tinnitus qualify for hearing aid services, as well as the following:
- Those who are 10 percent or more disabled
- Those who were prisoners of war
- Those who served during World War I
- Those who served during the Mexican Border Period—between May 1916 and April 1917
- Those who receive special pension benefits
- Those whose hearing loss is caused by a medical condition that’s been treated at a VA facility or resulted from treatment of that condition
- Those whose hearing loss is severe enough that in order to participate in their medical care, a hearing aid is needed
How to Receive a Hearing Aid
If you want to receive a hearing aid through the VA, you need to register at the Veterans Health Administration of a VA Medical Center. You can do this:
- In person
- By filling out a 10-10EZ Form online
- By mailing a 10-10EZ Form to the Medical Center
Once you’ve registered, your assigned VA primary care provider may refer you to the Audiology and Speech Pathology Clinic. An audiologist will evaluate your hearing problems to determine your need for a hearing aid. If you qualify, your hearing aids and repairs will be made available to you at no charge.
If you’re a veteran who was exposed to high levels of noise during your military service, and your hearing loss or tinnitus began or was aggravated during that service, you may qualify for disability benefits from the VA. Contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for VA Disability benefits.