Most military personnel at some point during their service are exposed to a high level of noise. Because noise-related hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises over an extended period of time or by a sudden, unexpected loud noise, many veterans suffer from hearing loss disability. If you’re a vet whose hearing loss or ringing in the ears—known as tinnitus—began or was aggravated during your service in the military, you may qualify for disability benefits from the VA.
How Military Service-Related Hearing Loss Occurs
Any noise over 85 decibels is considered damaging. If you’re exposed to that level of noise, you can experience hearing loss when the nerve endings or tiny hair cells within the ear are damaged or have died. Most often, this hearing loss can’t be reversed.
Military personnel experience noise exposure quite often. Some of the loudest environments for service men and women include duty on the flight line, serving in the infantry or working around naval ship engine rooms, aircraft carriers, and artillery. Those in combat are often exposed to auditory trauma for long periods of time.
Hundreds of thousands of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq suffered hearing loss related to their military service, especially those caught by roadside bombs. The explosions cause extreme change in the air pressure and this can fracture bones in the ear and rupture the eardrum.
Veterans who apply for VA disability for their hearing loss must show a service connection in three ways. You must provide evidence that you have a diagnosis of hearing loss. You must prove with medical evidence that the hearing loss occurred or was aggravated during your military service. And you must prove that there is a link between the disability you have today and an event that took place during your military service.