Veteran Hearing Services
Tinnitus and hearing loss are the first and second most common health problems faced by combat veterans. Dr. Lawson is himself a veteran, having completed his Au.D (Doctorate in Clinical Audiology) while serving as an active duty audiologist at Walter Reed, and we at Evergreen have a special awareness of the hearing healthcare needs of veterans.
While a hearing test at Evergreen will be free to all those who are eligible through the receipt of VA Health Benefits, the VA unfortunately does not automatically guarantee hearing aids to every veteran who could use them. At Evergreen Audiology, we will work with you and the VA to determine what benefits are available to you at this time.
VA hearing aid benefits can come from either of two main services:
- Free or reduced-cost hearing aids through VA Health Benefits.
- Monthly tax-free income from VA Disability Compensation.
VA Health Benefits and Hearing Aids
You can apply for VA Health Benefits online, by calling 1-877-222-VETS, or by visiting a VA healthcare facility or regional office.
Anyone who has been approved for VA Health Benefits “shall receive a hearing evaluation by a state-licensed audiologist to determine the need for hearing aids,” according to the Veterans Health Administration Directive 1034(1). Once it is determined by testing that hearing aids will be of use to you, you’ll need to file a claim with the VA. Veterans who are most likely to receive hearing aids through the VA will meet one or more of the following criteria:
- You have any compensable service-connected disability.
- You are a former Prisoner of War.
- You have been awarded a Purple Heart.
- You receive benefits under 38 U.S.C. 1151.
- You receive increased pension based on the need for regular aid and attendance, or by reason of being permanently house-bound.
- Your hearing impairment resulted from the existence of another medical condition for which you receive VA care, or from treatment of that medical condition.
- You have significant functional or cognitive impairment evidenced by deficiencies in activities of daily living, excluding normally occurring visual or hearing impairments.
- Your hearing impairment is so severe that the provision of sensori-neural aids is necessary to permit active participation in your own medical treatment.
In some cases, a veteran will need to co-pay for hearing aids, or will not qualify for any hearing care benefits.
VA Disability Compensation
If your hearing loss was caused as a direct result of U.S. military service, you may be eligible for disability compensation. Find out how to apply here.
If you served in active duty between 2003-2015 and you have hearing loss, you may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit that 3M settled in 2018. 3M knowingly provided faulty Dual-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs (Version 2 CAEv.2) to the U.S. military for 12 years, and their settlement of $9.1 million is going to the veterans who were affected by the fraud.
Am I Eligible to Have My Visit to Evergreen Audiology Covered?
The MISSION Act of 2018 opened up more options for veterans to receive healthcare in their local communities. If you live far from a VA clinic or if there is an exceptionally long waiting time for appointments at your closest VA, your visit to Evergreen may be covered under “VA Community Care,” a provision of the MISSION Act. Here is a guide, provided by the VA, on how to take advantage of Community Care.
Tinnitus and Veterans
Tinnitus is the single most common disability affecting veterans. The VA offers hearing care, disability payments, and a progressive tinnitus management program to eligible veterans. There is no cure for tinnitus, but progressive tinnitus management can help. If you also have hearing loss, several models of hearing aids include fitment for tinnitus management.
Preventing Hearing Loss in the Military
Veterans are statistically at twice the risk of developing severe hearing loss as civilians. As always, the best medicine is prevention. Those currently serving should protect their ears with all the tools available to them, and have their hearing tested regularly to make sure they are succeeding. While hearing aids can often provide a return to near-normal hearing, it will never be quite the same as having avoided hearing loss in the first place.