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What Is the Most Common VA Disability?

Each year more than 250,000 U.S. veterans start receiving disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to the VA, the average veteran who receives benefits has between 5 and 6 service-connected disabilities.

However, one VA disability is the most common by far. Of the 258,644 veterans who started receiving VA benefits in 2020 (the most recent year for which data are available), 149,368 filed claims for tinnitus.

Whether you are experiencing tinnitus, limb-mobility issues, or other concern, the Orlando VA Benefits lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright are here to help. We understand the hardships faced by injured veterans. We also know that the application process for Veterans’ Benefits is very complex, and requires a significant amount of documentation in order to achieve a successful claim. Our firm is committed to helping our clients navigate the process and obtain the benefits they need and deserve.

Tinnitus is the Most Common VA Disability 

In total, more than 2.3 million veterans received VA disability benefits for tinnitus in 2020. As the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDOCD) explains

“Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing in the ears, but it also can sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched. You might hear it in either one or both ears.”

As the NIDOCD also explains, tinnitus is a symptom of a problem in the auditory system. These problems, which can affect the ear, the auditory nerve, or the parts of the brain that process sound, can have a variety of different causes. Among veterans, however, tinnitus is most commonly the result of exposure to loud sounds. This includes prolonged exposure to sounds at high decibel levels (such as helicopter rotors) as well as exposure to sudden loud sounds such as gunshots and explosions. In addition, as the NIDOCD notes, “[s]ervice members exposed to bomb blasts can develop tinnitus if the shock wave of the explosion squeezes the skull and damages brain tissue in areas that help process sound.”

When tinnitus results from exposure to a loud sound or blast, it often cannot be cured. While, as the Mayo Clinic notes, “there are treatments that can help make your symptoms less noticeable,” this often isn’t enough for veterans who are suffering from severe service-connected tinnitus. 

This makes seeking VA disability benefits for tinnitus extremely important for veterans—and it also helps explain why tinnitus-related VA disability claims are so common. Living with tinnitus can be challenging, and it can impact many aspects of your life. If you are a veteran and you are experiencing the following effects, you should speak with a lawyer about filing a VA disability claim for tinnitus:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • A constant or periodic humming sound
  • A constant or periodic roaring sound
  • Clicks or hissing 
  • A rhythmic pulsing or whooshing sound

The sounds you hear when you have tinnitus, “may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal, and you may hear it in one or both ears . . . [and they] may be present all the time, or [they] may come and go.” In any case, the constant or repetitive noise can disrupt your daily life and make it difficult or possible to concentrate, enjoy time with your friends and family, or work—and these are all reasons why the VA makes disability benefits available. 

In many cases, veterans who experience tinnitus will also experience hearing loss. In addition to paying disability benefits to more than 2.3 million veterans with tinnitus, the VA is also currently paying disability benefits to more than 1.3 million veterans with hearing loss. Many veterans are receiving benefits for both conditions. 

What are Other Common VA Disabilities?

In addition to tinnitus, several other disabilities are common among veterans as well. According to the VA, after tinnitus, the next most-common VA disability claims in 2020 were:

  • Limited flexion in the knee (98,492 claims in 2020)
  • Lumbosacral or cervical strain (69,611 claims in 2020)
  • Scars and second-degree burns (67,293 claims in 2020)
  • Limited arm mobility (65,827 claims in 2020)
  • Hearing loss (61,158 claims in 2020)
  • Limited ankle mobility (51,131 claims in 2020)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (45,153 claims in 2020)
  • Sciatic nerve paralysis (42,303 claims in 2020)
  • Migraines (41,348 claims in 2020)

As the VA explains, these 10 disabilities (including tinnitus), “represent almost half of all service-connected disabilities. Almost 900 other disabilities comprise the other half.” If you are a veteran and you are struggling to cope with the effects of any service-connected medical condition, you owe it to yourself to learn more about VA disability benefits. 

Speak with a VA Disability Lawyer in Orlando

If you would like to know more about filing a claim for disability benefits with the VA, we invite you to schedule a free initial consultation at Colling Gilbert Wright.

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Contact our offices in Orlando today online or at (800) 766-1000.

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