Tinnitus is common among veterans. Some doctors say that over 50% of veterans suffer from tinnitus, the cause of which is hearing damage due to loud noise exposure, usually due to gunfire and explosions but it can even be due to long term exposure to loud machinery.
Luckily, the VA (Veterans Association) recognizes the clear link between damage to hearing from serving and tinnitus. That said, if you want to claim VA Disability Compensation then you must provide medical evidence. What does this mean exactly? This means you must be able to show that you were exposed to prolonged bouts of loud noise during active duty (where and how). You must also demonstrate that you have measurable and significant hearing loss. Most important, you must get a state licensed audiologist (a professional who measures your hearing ability) to provide a documented opinion that you have hearing loss and that it came due to your active duty.
I recommend that you see an audiologist at your nearest VA medical center. Sure, you could go to any licensed audiologist but they may not be used to seeing veterans. Most states have a VA Medical Center, you can find a big list of them here: VA Medical Centers by state.
Remember, an audiologist can test your hearing. He or she will also ask you about your tinnitus but this is a subjective test that depends on what you tell them. Therefore it is very important to get across to the audiologist just how intense and debilitating the tinnitus is to you. Don't understate your tinnitus or else you may not successfully be able to argue that the tinnitus was caused by your active duty and you may be refused compensation.
Some people say that your symptoms of tinnitus must be constant in order to claim it but others say that this is an old rule only. Apparently, the new rules state that if it is not constant then so long as it keeps returning and does not go away (i.e. it is recurrent and not a one-off) then you should qualify for the compensation.
Also, when presenting your case of your duty, where you served, doing what etc., don't just write a list of what you did and where. Write your own summary and be sure to highlight the long exposure to loud noises. Also speak to your buddies and get them to write supporting statements to show that your experience can be corroborated by others. All of these little things can go a long way in your case to get your entitled VA disability compensation for tinnitus.
Do not just include details of rifle/gun fire. Blasts are more likely to cause the hearing damage that leads to tinnitus. If you can document or show proof that you were exposed to blasts (e.g. IED explosions) then your claim will be more successful. Even videos and news reports can help. I recommend looking at sites such as Liveleak which contain a lot of archived war coverage.
Make the best case that you can because you do have to fight hard these days to get what you are due. Good luck.
Are you a veteran suffering from tinnitus? We recommend End Your Tinnitus (click here) to help fight back against your symptoms.