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VAC and Tinnitus

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I am fighting a claim for my Tinnitus. I was wondering if there is anyone out there that fought them and won after they had no prior history i.e medical reports. There saying because I do not have any background of Tinnitus, I cannot claim Tinnitus? And its at the final level of Appeal and I could use someones help from someone that won in my similar position. Can anyone help?
 

Armymedic

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Its a tough thing to prove or disprove you actually have tinnitus because its a symptom. By "background" they mean traumatic brain injury, long term exposure to noise, or have had your eardrums broken because of explosions or barotrauma; all common causes of tinnitus.
 

Cdnleaf

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You have to decide what it is that you're actually claiming.  I.e Tinnitus or hearing loss subsequent to tinnitus.  It is possible to have tinnitus without hearing loss - frequency loss yes; however a person still can be a H1/H2 with tinnitus.  If your claim is for tinnitus - then you have to demonstrate the impact tinnitus had on your life.  For example using the Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subjective_units_of_distress_scale argue the impact it has had on your daily life, family and functioning.

You can also establish objectively through auditory exams - frequency loss and then subjectively how this has impacted your ability in Sound Localization http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_localization.  Included with this could be the impact Tinnitus has on your sound discrimination, google for info and please do some research prior to going to the board.

Similar to the above advice, you must establish and provide information/documentation concerning the specific nexus your Tinnitus has to military service.  Specifically when the injury/incident took place and how that resulted in your hearing/frequency loss and subsequent Tinnitus.  Stating without example/documentation, that your tinnitus is a result of chronic exposure to loud noises is not sufficient IMHO.

My grandfather was a WWII Vet and similar to his generation, suffered from this for years.  Good luck with your claim.  Also - talk with your lawyer, I would suggest that this is not his/her first 'final level of appeal,' or Tinnitus Claim.  All the best, Dan.
 
C

Chewie

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Yes members have won awards for Tinnitus...especially in certain fields ie EGS Techs, Stokers etc....
 

BDTyre

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A friend just received a lump sum for tinnitus and hearing damage. I'm in a similar boat as him, possibly in a "better" situation (so to speak). His tinnitus was a pre-existing condition worsened by service - mine was non-existant prior to service, particularly my deployment. My hearing damage/loss (not sure how they'd categorize it) has also significantly worsened, especially in my right ear, since my deployment. Enough so to make me borderline in terms of meeting medical standards. I'm not sure how that will be taken into consideration. I'm not sure how they can medically prove the existance of tinnitus in a person, but I've had an audiologist declare that I have it, so I can't see VAC trying to argue against that one.

On the advice of the local VAC rep at 39CBG, I put in a claim for both tinnitus and hearing loss. VAC in Vancouver seems to have had no problems with me claiming for both (they two are most likely related, but are completely different issues). My file has gone on to Charlottetown and while the timeline says it could be mid-summer before I get an answer, based on my friend's experience (he submitted his claim a month or so before me), I won't be surprised if I hear back from them in the next month or so.
 

Rifleman62

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I very much believe, based on discussions with a specialist, VAC bases it's tinnitus on the results of your audio gram for hearing. There is no way to measure tinnitus.
 

BDTyre

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Just an update - my claim for tinnitus was approved (11%, payment at 10%, not sure why). The document I received outlines why/why not and here is what they said in a summarized format:
- service medical records
- my statement and available medical info
- all service audiograms
- a Consultant Clinical report (i.e. report from an audiologist)
- declaration of injury during service in an SDA (I'm guessing my CF98 or other form from in-theatre)
- various reports from after my tour

The rejected my claim for general hearing loss, which makes sense as I'm still able to meet my trade's medical category so obviously my hearng loss is not disabling.

Just in general, for those waiting for a decision from VAC, the paperwork is subject to human error. For instance, it dates my audiologist report as being in August 2007, well before my tour (should be August 2010) and says I was in Afghanistan from October 2009 to May 2011 (okay....).  ;D

 

Occam

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Rifleman62 said:
I very much believe, based on discussions with a specialist, VAC bases it's tinnitus on the results of your audio gram for hearing. There is no way to measure tinnitus.

Well, that's not entirely accurate.  A tinnitus assessment done by a clinical audiologist can usually nail down specifics of the tinnitus.  In my case, tinnitus was "most accurately and repeatedly matched to a frequency of 71 Hz at an intensity level of 58 dB".  How accurate are those results?  I don't know - but VAC accepted them into evidence for my hearing loss and tinnitus claim.

CanadianTire said:
Just an update - my claim for tinnitus was approved (11%, payment at 10%, not sure why).

Disability amounts are rounded to the nearest 5%. 

The rejected my claim for general hearing loss, which makes sense as I'm still able to meet my trade's medical category so obviously my hearng loss is not disabling.

That's not necessarily true either.  I was finally able to get a partial hearing loss claim approved (5% disability, 2/5 pension entitlement, resulting in a 2% overall pension awarded - not enough to raise me to the next payment level), yet I'm still an H2.  Most of my hearing loss is at high frequency, which is only needed to obtain an H1 hearing category.  If you didn't get approved for a general hearing loss claim, then that's because the evidence either did not support that you have enough hearing loss to support the claim, or that it was not caused by military service.  They only awarded 2/5 entitlement to me as they believe the evidence supported part of my hearing loss being attributed to a labrynthine disorder (which, oddly enough, cannot be conclusively diagnosed).  I'm considering appealing the hearing loss decision for two reasons;  one, how can they prove the existence of a labrynthine disorder and disprove that the entire hearing loss wasn't caused by noise exposure; and two, how can hearing loss not result from a 71 Hz tone injected into one ear at an intensity level of 58 dB on a 24/7 basis?

Just in general, for those waiting for a decision from VAC, the paperwork is subject to human error. For instance, it dates my audiologist report as being in August 2007, well before my tour (should be August 2010) and says I was in Afghanistan from October 2009 to May 2011 (okay....).  ;D

I'm not surprised in the slightest.  Half of my audiograms from two different medical clinics didn't get forwarded to VAC.  Good thing I followed up on what VAC actually had in hand, compared to what I knew they should have had in hand.
 

BDTyre

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Occam - good to know. It might be worth me pursuing the hearing loss claim, as from what I've been told it is definitely due to noise exposure, and beforee joining I was not exposed to loud noises on a constant basis. I'll have to re-read the decision though, as I have a feeling that my hearing loss might not fall within the standards set by VAC.
 

Rifleman62

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Here is the link to VAC's current, 2006 (revised Nov 07) Table of Disabilities. http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/sub.cfm?source=dispen/2006tod/pdf

See Page 3, 7 and 10, for Tinnitus.

You could print this doc and take it to an Audiologist for explanation.
 

BDTyre

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A more general question here...a friend has also had his tinnitus claim approved. He was initially happy with the compensation, but now that its been a month or two, he's starting to think it might be worth his time to go to the review board. We've both talked to a few people and have been given different opinions. If the cheque from VAC is cashed and some or all of the money spent, will this damage a person's odds of getting bumped to the next level?
 

Occam

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CanadianTire said:
A more general question here...a friend has also had his tinnitus claim approved. He was initially happy with the compensation, but now that its been a month or two, he's starting to think it might be worth his time to go to the review board. We've both talked to a few people and have been given different opinions. If the cheque from VAC is cashed and some or all of the money spent, will this damage a person's odds of getting bumped to the next level?

No, once you've been approved for a certain level you don't jeopardize it by appealing.  In other words, you can cash the cheque and it won't affect the outcome of an appeal.

That said, does your friend realize that there are only two levels for tinnitus, 5% and 10% disability?
 

Fishbone Jones

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Occam said:
No, once you've been approved for a certain level you don't jeopardize it by appealing.  In other words, you can cash the cheque and it won't affect the outcome of an appeal.

That said, does your friend realize that there are only two levels for tinnitus, 5% and 10% disability?

Unless you have quality of life issues which will add percentage points between 5 and 10.

i.e. - Medical Impairment rating is 5%
      Quality of Life rating is 1%
      The disability assessment is - 5% + 1% = 6%
 

BDTyre

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Occam said:
No, once you've been approved for a certain level you don't jeopardize it by appealing.  In other words, you can cash the cheque and it won't affect the outcome of an appeal.

That said, does your friend realize that there are only two levels for tinnitus, 5% and 10% disability?

No, neither of us were aware of that. I'd read a post here about a month ago of someone being awarded 15%, but as recceguy pointed out there may have been quality of life issues.
 

Occam

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CanadianTire said:
No, neither of us were aware of that. I'd read a post here about a month ago of someone being awarded 15%, but as recceguy pointed out there may have been quality of life issues.

If it was 15%, it wasn't just for tinnitus.  At the maximum impairment rating of 10%, the maximum QOL rating is 2%, resulting in a 12% disability rating.

Tinnitus - Table 9.3

QOL ratings - Table 2.2

Perhaps the one you read also had a hearing loss rating as well?
 

Rifleman62

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Don't forget that once you "win" the disability assessment, the pension entitlement battle must be won:

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/sub.cfm?source=dispen

For example, actual case: 5% disability for a march fracture during battle fitness test. Absolute documentation. Soldier receives a 5% disability. Wrong. Incredibility, VAC determines that the military service played only a minimal part in the disability, and assesses 1/5 of an entitlement for a disability. Therefore 1/5 of 5% is 1%= 1% disability, 0 dollars.

Appeal: Review Hearing, followed by the Appeal Hearing. Three years later entitlement 3/5 granted. Therefore 3/5 of 5% = 3% disability.
Why 1/5 or 3/5 entitlement for an injury doing mandated battle fitness test is beyond me.

That said, I believe VAC approves, with documentation, Tinnitus at 5/5 entitlement , 5% and 10% disability.

At link:

Pension Entitlement is

    * Based solely on the relationship between service and disability;
    * Awarded in fifths: from one-fifth (1/5), if service played only a minimal part in the cause or worsening of the disability, to five fifths (5/5) if the disability was incurred during, or was caused in its entirety by military service;
    * Entitlement may also be awarded for a disability which is a consequence of a pensioned service-related disability.
    * Guided by Entitlement Eligibility Guidelines, policy statements used in determining the relationship of your medical condition or disability to military service.
 

Occam

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I'll correct an error I'd made previously.  Under the New Charter, the possible impairment ratings are: nil, 1%, 3%, 5% or 10%.  The amount depends on the severity and frequency of the tinnitus.

When I said the only amounts were 5% and 10%, I was thinking Pension Act - which I am under.

I haven't seen anything that would lead me to believe that the Pension Entitlement factor for Tinnitus is always 5/5; in my case, I had to prove that it was completely attributed to military service to get 5/5 entitlement.
 

Rifleman62

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Rifleman62:
That said, I believe VAC approves, with documentation

Occam:
I had to prove that it was completely attributed to military service to get 5/5 entitlement.

Rifleman62: Occam, are we not singing from the same sheet of music???
 

Occam

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Rifleman62 said:
Occam, are we not singing from the same sheet of music???

Sorry, I took this:

Rifleman62 said:
That said, I believe VAC approves, with documentation, Tinnitus at 5/5 entitlement , 5% and 10% disability.

as you suggesting that VAC doesn't grant an entitlement level for tinnitus at 1/5 through 4/5 (ie. 5/5 only).  If I misread that, you have my apologies.  To the best of my knowledge one can be given any entitlement from 1/5 through 5/5 for tinnitus.
 
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