Defense Base Act Claims for Tinnitus
Tinnitus is documented to be the most claimed disability experienced by military veterans in the VA system. In fact, in 2015 alone, almost 160,000 claims for tinnitus were filed with the Veterans Administration.
And since defense contractors often work in the same conditions as military personnel, it is safe to assume that a high percentage of workers covered under the Defense Base Act also experience tinnitus.
Who Gets Tinnitus?
Tinnitus typically affects older individuals, with one exception: it commonly affects younger people who are or were in the armed forces. Almost half of the soldiers exposed to blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan – and about 30% of military returning from war zones – suffer from Tinnitus.
Though tinnitus is less highly reported in civilian contractors, many work in proximity to mortar shelling, exploding of IEDs, and/or small arms and artillery fire. So it should be expected that military contractors could have similarly high percentages of tinnitus.
What Is Tinnitus?
Most people believe that tinnitus is just a “ringing in the ears,” but it is more complex and often more severe than this simple description. Tinnitus is can result in the perception of a wide variety of external noises that are not actually present, including ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing, swooshing, clicking, or crackling. And in some very rare cases, tinnitus sufferers hear musical sounds.
Tinnitus can be acute (temporary) or chronic (continuous) and can be of varying degrees of loudness. It is thought to be caused by a sensorineural reaction in the brain resulting from some type of damage in the ear or auditory system.
Collecting Defense Base Act Benefits for Tinnitus
Many employers, lawyers and even doctors representing injured workers have no idea of how extensive – and disruptive – tinnitus can be. It can interfere with the ability to work, concentrate, perform daily living activities and even sleep.
For this reason DBA claims of tinnitus are often denied by the employer’s insurance company.
And, since the AMA (Sixth Edition) states there is currently no way to scientifically evaluate tinnitus, it can be hard for a contractor with tinnitus to prove the extent and the effect of his or her tinnitus.
However, a number of treatments for tinnitus are available. So it is very important that the contractor is able to get DBA benefits to reimburse him/her for these potentially helpful treatments.
Tinnitus treatments can include: tinnitus retraining therapy using neural background noise; FDA approved Neuromonics device; sound generators; medications & more. But it is up to the claimant and his or her attorney and doctors to prove that the treatments are reasonable and necessary in order for them to be covered under the Defense Base Act.
Compensation for Tinnitus Under the Defense Base Act
In most cases tinnitus is primarily confined to the schedule of benefits that allows a maximum of 5% impairment to be awarded, in cases where the tinnitus arises from hearing loss.
However, some other cases have held that an applicant’s tinnitus that occurred independently of hearing loss should still be allowed and rated under the DBA – the same as any other unscheduled injury that creates a wage loss.
Best Defense Base Act Attorneys
If you are (or were) a Defense Base Act contractor suffering from tinnitus, it is important that you discuss your claim with an experienced DBA attorney who understands the potential severity and the impact of tinnitus. This is the best way to ensure that you are able to prove the extent of your tinnitus, as well as the negative impact it has on your daily life and ability to work.
Our highly specialized Defense Base Act attorneys are committed to ensuring that every injured or disabled civilian employee obtains the benefits he or she has earned. We have successfully filed hundreds of Defense Base Act applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in DBA benefits in over four decades of legal service.
Call today, or fill out the short form on the right to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our skilled and experienced Defense Base Act Attorneys.
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