What are you options to get financial help for hearing loss and/or tinnitus?
Hearing loss and tinnitus after serving in the military is most often caused by the prolonged and continued exposure to constant or loud noises. These noises include firearms, explosives and machine or vehicle noise. This exposure is common place in most aspects of military life especially in basic training and combat situations. Unfortunately, the eventual result of this frequent exposure is either hearing loss or tinnitus or both.
The documentation of the incidence and impact of hearing loss and/or tinnitus amongst servicemen and veterans is poor. Especially in relation to the impact on general health and wellbeing after leaving the services . Consequently, there are not many statistics to base solid evidence on. However, it is clear, given the conversations we have every day with veterans, that hearing loss, tinnitus and hearing aids are a big topic of conversation and concern.
As with most medical conditions education, knowledge and early intervention are two of the primary factors in reducing the impact of military tinnitus and hearing loss among amongst veterans. So veterans should have their hearing checked on a regular basis, preferably every year.
Tinnitus and other hearing related problems make up 10% of MOD disability and pensions payments made to service members. In short these conditions are number three on the list of the most common disabilities suffered by veterans. However hearing loss and tinnitus is a much bigger issue amongst veterans than the 10% total paid out represent.
There are a number of options to look at if you have hearing loss and/or tinnitus in order to get compensation/funding to assist with hearing loss and tinnitus.
What options do you have?
One option is to look at an Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or War Pension Scheme. The veteran will gain a pension or payout if the assessed level of hearing loss, calculated taking the average over three frequencies: 1, 2, and 3 KHz, meets the requirements. Each ear has it’s average measurements recorded in decibels. To make an award the loss MUST be at least 50 decibels in both ears.
Tinnitus is part of the hearing loss and therefore there are no separate awards for it. As such, just a few claimants have reduced hearing, but as a result don’t qualify for a payment. The MOD maintains that hearing loss cannot get worse after you have left the noisy environment. This means that if your hearing reduces after discharge, the MOD will not make an award because they will decide that Service was not the cause.
Another option, for example, is to look at making a compensation claim the via medico-legal route. You can bring a claim for compensation at the same time as a AFCS or War Pension claim, but you will need to go through a medico-legal company to pursue a military deafness claim.
Help is available
The last, and in our opinion the best option, is to make an application for The Royal British Legions Veterans Hearing Fund. HM Treasury decided that some of the fines raised from the Libor Scandal should support veterans medical needs. In this case, hearing loss and/or tinnitus. It’s not dependant on whether you have made a claim, or have an existing claim outstanding, as mentioned above. It is separate and not means tested. In fact, having a war pension or payout for hearing loss can help your application process. According to the Armed Forces Covenant and the principle of ‘no disadvantage’, the funds aim to reduce disadvantage to all veterans.
At Veterans Hearing Support our aim is to promote the availability of the Veterans Hearing Fund. Moreover to help veterans all the way through the application process to what we hope is a successful outcome. Success meaning getting the most up to date hearing technology, assistive devices and therapies.