Each year, approximately 22 million people work at jobs that expose them to a high level of noise that can be potentially damaging. Additionally, 10 million people in the United States have hearing loss that is noise-related. Those who worked or currently work in the military are no exception. Any service member exposed to artillery and explosives risks hearing damage.

The military has expanded its efforts to protect the troops from noise exposure, as a large number of U.S. soldiers and Marines who have experienced roadside bombings and firefights in both Afghanistan and Iraq have come home with permanent ringing in their ears and hearing loss.
A Man Holding His Hand to His Ear As if He is Hard of HearingThe rate of auditory injury in military personnel is rising by over 13 percent a year. And hearing loss and tinnitus—ringing in the ears—are two primary compensated disabilities by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Being exposed to severe noise levels can cause serious damage to your ears. If you experienced noise exposure while serving in the military, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the VA.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

Sometimes, hearing fades gradually and goes unnoticed. As long as you can still hear some sound, you may think that people are simply mumbling or speaking less clearly. Here are some general signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • You may have difficulty hearing people on the telephone.
  • You may find it difficult to understand what people are saying, especially if you’re in a crowd or a noisy location.
  • You may have difficulty hearing consonants.
  • You may ask people to speak more loudly, slowly, or clearly.
  • You may need to increase the volume on the radio or TV.
  • You may experience hissing or ringing in your ears—a condition called tinnitus.

It’s possible that someone else may recognize signs of your hearing loss before you do. And some research shows that it can often take people 10 years to address their hearing loss once they’re recognized the signs and symptoms.

Hearing loss has been associated with diseases such as anxiety, depression, and dementia, and there’s a connection between hearing loss that goes untreated and a decrease in earning potential. If you suffer symptoms from noise exposure due to your military service and it’s become debilitating or interferes with your ability to work, contact us at 402-933-5405. We’ll discuss your situation and determine if you might be eligible for VA Disability benefits.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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