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What is tinnitus and how can Veterans get VA disability benefits for it?

Most Veterans have heard of tinnitus – and that's because it's a common condition among those who have served in the military. Not only does it affect 1 in 10 Americans, but over 2.5 million Veterans alone are receiving VA disability benefits for tinnitus according to But what is it, and how can Veterans receive VA disability benefits for it?

In this blog, we review the basics of tinnitus as a condition and discuss how Veterans can earn service connection. Here's what you need to know about tinnitus:

What is tinnitus?

As defined by Mayo Clinic, tinnitus is "when you experience ringing or other noises in one or both of your ears." This ringing is an internal problem, meaning that the sound you hear is not occuring externally. It's quite a common condition, estimated to affect 15 to 20 percent of adults (and an even higher percentage of Veterans).

The following are the most common causes of tinnitus:

  • Hearing loss due to age

  • Injuries direct to the ear

  • Circulatory system issues

  • Exposure to loud noise 

What are symptoms of tinnitus?

Although most people describe tinnitus as "ringing in the ears", the internal sounds can appear in a few different ways. The following are the most common symptoms of tinnitus:

  • Ringing (most common)

  • Low humming sound

  • Buzzing noises

  • Clicking or hissing sounds

Why are Veterans at a higher risk of developing tinnitus?

Research has revealed that hearing loss and tinnitus are two of the most common service-connected problems that Veterans face. But why? Well, for most Veterans the answer is due to noise exposure: heavy equipment operation, loud blasts, artillery, and so on. It can also occur from direct injuries to the head or ear, which can occur during combat. Research has also pointed towards ototoxic chemicals (chemicals that can cause hearing loss) as a contributing factor for tinnitus development in Veterans.

How to start a claim for tinnitus or another service-connected condition

Whether you're a Veteran with tinnitus or another condition that developed or worsened as a result of military service, you may be eligible for VA disability benefits. To get VA disability benefits for this condition, you'll need to prove that it happened as a result of military service. This includes gathering medical documentation and competent evidence to support your claim before you submit it.

If you're not sure where to start, we can help. We work with Veterans to draft expertly crafted medical documentation (Nexus Letters, DBQs, chart reviews and more) to get better ratings from the VA with less time and energy spent. Ready to get your claim filed without all the headache? View our services here or sign up for a chart review.

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