What Are Veteran Disability Ratings?

After submitting your application to the VA, you’ll receive a letter informing you about whether or not you’ve been approved for certain veteran disability benefits. The letter will also give you a specific rating for your veteran disability, which ties into the type of benefits you’re entitled to receive.

Veteran Disability Rating
This rating applies to the severity of your disability, and how disabled you are. The VA rates your  veteran disability by reviewing all the medical evidence submitted with your claim. If you have more than one disability for which you’re applying, the VA has a combined rating table that determines a total rating from the multiple disabilities. However, that rating will never be more than 100%, and the VA will choose the highest rating available for the conditions.

The Rating System

The VA assigns ratings as a percentage, in increments from 10% to 100%. This veteran disability rating represents the amount of disability and how it impacts a veteran’s everyday life.

The VA’s Schedule Of Rating Disabilities is the rulebook in which medical conditions are individually rated. The conditions are rated according to the body system, such as cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive, and then individually by severity. The VA bases its rating on

For instance, in the section for Dental and Oral Conditions, the percentages for different conditions are arranged and rated accordingly:

• 9900—Maxilla or mandible, chronic osteomyelitis, osteonecrosis, or osteoradionecrosis of Rate as osteomyelitis, chronic under diagnostic code 5000.
• 9901–Mandible, loss of, complete, between angles, 100
• 9902—Mandible, loss of, including ramus, unilaterally or bilaterally:
• Loss of one-half or more,
• Involving temporomandibular articulation
• Not replaceable by prosthesis, 70
• Replaceable by prosthesis, 50
• Not involving temporomandibular articulation
• Not replaceable by prosthesis, 40
• Replaceable by prosthesis, 30
• Loss of less than one-half,
• Involving temporomandibular articulation
• Not replaceable by prosthesis, 70
• Replaceable by prosthesis, 50
• Not involving temporomandibular articulation
• Not replaceable by prosthesis, 20
• Replaceable by prosthesis, 10

If you have another condition such as diabetes alongside a dental condition, the VA rates diabetes separately and uses the combined table to calculate a total rating.

0% Disability Rating

Note that a 0% rating indicates that you will not receive payments even though the VA recognizes that you have a medical condition.

However, a 0% rating does render you eligible for other benefits, including:

• Free healthcare and prescriptions through the VA, if you meet the income requirements
• Higher priority for eligibility for healthcare
• Travel cost reimbursements related to medical care from a VA medical facility or a VA-authorized healthcare provider
• Automatic 10-point veterans’ preference while applying for employment with the federal government
• The right to apply for life insurance through the Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance Program (S-DVI)
• Admission to commissaries, exchanges, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) retail facilities, online and in-person

However, you can also file an appeal if you believe your disability should be rated higher than 0%.

Qualifying For Veteran Disability Benefits

Veterans who have a physical or mental service-connected disability that makes everyday responsibilities challenging may be eligible for benefits from the VA for that disability. The veteran must meet the criteria set out by the VA:

• A veteran who became injured and/or ill while serving
• A veteran whose injury or illness worsened while serving
• A veteran whose service-connected injury or illness was not obvious until after their separation date

When applying for VA disability benefits, you need to include medical evidence to support your claim, which can include:

• Military personnel records
• Military medical records
• All private medical records related to the condition that is not from the VA
• All VA medical records pertaining to the condition or related VA medical records that the VA can request on your behalf

Working with an experienced VA disability lawyer can make the process easier from start to finish.

Get Help From A Houston VA Disability Attorney

Whether you’re ready to start your application, need help with an appeal, or want to investigate a case review, we’re ready to assist. You do have the right to legal representation whether you’re starting your application, facing a hearing, or dealing with an appeal.
Call The Herren Law Firm in Houston at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation for VA disability and other benefits. Our contingency fee basis means you won’t owe a fee until we win your case, and there’s no obligation.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

Vision problems are one of the many reasons people apply for disability. Macular degeneration, or MD, is a leading cause of vision loss for people over the age of 50, and for people in the US. It’s most common in people over 60. It’s also called “age-related macular degeneration,” or AMD.

Does Macular Degeneration Qualify Me for Veterans Benefits?

As a veteran, you may also experience this condition as well as other vision problems. MD can make everyday life difficult, including driving, working, reading, and seeing what’s right in front of you. If you notice that you are having a difficult time seeing things the way you did before, you may be overdue for an eye exam.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

The macula is a part of the retina in the back of the eye, in the center. That means a person with macular degeneration loses their central vision, but not their peripheral. For instance, when you look directly at a clock, you may see the numbers but not the hands.

Most people don’t completely lose their vision, but simply don’t see what’s right in front of them. In other cases, the vision loss is mild.

There are two types of MD:

  • Dry, the most common type, roughly 80% of the cases, where the macula itself thins considerably leading to the growth of tiny clumps of protein, called drusen
  • Wet, less common but more serious type, where new blood vessels begin growing under the retina and leak fluid into the eye.

Smoking, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other risk factors contribute to MD’s development.

MD comes on slowly, and most people don’t realize they have it until they begin having blurring. There isn’t a “cure” for MD, and dry doesn’t yet have a full treatment. Regular ophthalmologist visits can detect it early and help manage if you do develop MD.

What Does The VA Say?

For many years, the VA didn’t recognize macular degeneration as a disability. Fortunately, that has since changed, allowing veterans with MD to seek treatment and receive benefits.

The VA puts MD into the Schedule of Ratings as “Organs of Special Sense.” They use these three tools as the basis for determining your eye problems and the impact of MD on your sight:

  1. Central acuity, or the ability to distinguish details and shapes at a distance using an eye chart
  2. Visual field, or everything you can see when staring ahead at a fixed point
  3. Muscle dysfunction, or how well the eye moves around to pick up sight

As with any condition you present to the VA, you’ll need to show MD as a service-related condition (primary or secondary), or provide proof from a physician of the connection.

The C&P Exam

The VA will also require you to take a Compensation and Pension exam, or C&P. This exam determines the degree of your disability and the rating for a disability, and determining the service connection.

The VA requires you to undergo an exam by either a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist. You’ll also need to provide:

  • A current diagnosis for your eye condition
  • Evidence of an in-service event, illness, or injury that’s related to your condition
  • A “nexus letter” from a physician that connects the current eye condition to an in-service event, illness, or injury

All of these show a direct service connection. However, a secondary service connection is also possible. An existing illness or medication is taken for a different service connection may also cause or aggravate MD as a secondary condition. They can include:

  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Lyme disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

If you already qualify for healthcare through the VA, you can also obtain these eye exams and diagnoses from the VA as well. This includes testing for conditions like glaucoma.

Macular degeneration is a relatively newly rated condition under the VA’s disability rules. Getting help from an experienced disability attorney can go a long way in making sure your application is done correctly.

Let Herren Law Assist You With The VA For Macular Degeneration

If you’re a veteran with vision issues including macular degeneration, you can apply for and receive VA benefits for this condition. Should the VA either deny or under-rate your condition, it’s time to get help and increase your chances of success.

Call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys are experienced in helping veterans successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.



Common Disabilities As A Result Of TBI

TBI, or Traumatic Brain Injury, is also called “craniocerebral trauma.” It’s the result of a sharp blow, bump, or other sudden trauma to the head that disturbs the brain’s normal functioning. It can also occur when an object penetrates into the brain, such as a skull fragment or high-velocity object. A Traumatic Brain Injury can range from mild effects to severe, depending on the initial injury.

Common Disabilities As A Result Of  A Traumatic Brain Injury

The CDC reports that there were 2.87 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities related to TBI in 2014. Of those, 837,000 were children.

Falls are the leading cause of TBI, in over half of the cases. The second leading cause is being hit by or against an object. However, veterans can also suffer TBI as a result of their military service, such as exposure to IEDs (“improvised explosive devices.”)

Injuries from a TBI can range from a mild headache and concussion to a persistent vegetative state (coma.) Those who survive a TBI can develop disabilities as a result of the disruption of brain function. The brain injury can affect the way a person thinks, moves, and acts, and cause an individual to suffer a disability.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

Occurring directly after an injury event, nearly 50% of TBI victims experience PCS, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to many months. Generally temporary, it usually means that the patient cannot work or take part in other normal daily activities until symptoms are managed with medication, psychotherapy, and physical therapy. Patients with PCS may exhibit a range of symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness/Vertigo
  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Apathy and sadness

Communication Disability

With symptoms ranging from mild to severe, TBI patients frequently have issues with communications and language. Some may experience minor symptoms such as failing to understand nonverbal cues like body language. Others may have trouble speaking in complete sentences and recalling specific words, pausing more, and using broken sentences.

More serious symptoms include the inability to understand or create written or spoken words, or speech interruptions such as slurring or speaking nonsensically. The problem is also frustrating for the patient because they can no longer communicate with others. They aren’t aware that what they are saying is gibberish and don’t understand why the other person can’t understand them.

Cognitive Disability

This can occur from one strong injury, or repetitive mild injuries (i.e., boxers, fighters, and football players.) The primary issue is memory loss, remembering new things, and having trouble with remembering past events.

Longer-term symptoms include brain fog, problem-solving, logical and abstract reasoning, making appropriate judgments, and things like organizing a schedule. These can make everyday activities like working impossible. Fortunately, recovery from a cognitive disability is the greatest in the first six months after the injury.

Sensory Problems

Because the brain is the control center of the senses, a TBI disrupts the sensory input. This can include:

  • Vision problems, including double vision, a limited range of vision, or a lack of visual acuity
  • Changes in smell, hearing, taste, and touch, such as:
    • Tinnitus
    • The ability to taste only bitter
    • The ability to only smell foul odors
    • Skin itching or tingling
  • Hand-eye coordination issues, leading to dropping or bumping into objects, or an unsteady gait
  • Heightened or loss of sensation of different body parts
  • Neglect of the left or right side
  • Not understanding the location of limbs are in relation to the body

Although the patient sees, he or she cannot process the input from the eyes. They may not recognize people or objects. These difficulties can make everyday activities like driving a car impossible.

Psychiatric And Emotional Difficulties

Many TBI patients exhibit behavioral and emotional problems. Changes from a TBI can also lead to depression, anxiety, and other changes in moods. Depending on the severity of the TBI, patients can also exhibit:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Apathy
  • Irritability
  • Mood Swings
  • Confusion
  • Frustration
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Aggression
  • Violence/Combativeness
  • Compulsive behavior

While many patients can recover with medication and psychotherapy, some may not. They may eventually become child-like constantly, unable to function normally, leading to permanent disability.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your SSD or VA Disability Application

Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability or through the VA, Herren Law can tell you what you need and how to apply. If your claim is denied, we can also help you with an appeal.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.


Can I Get VA Benefits For Hearing Loss In Houston, TX?

You may have noticed that you’re not hearing as well as you did before, or you keep asking people to repeat something. Did this happen during your time on active duty?

Doctor talking to an older female patient about Houston, TX VA disability benefits for hearing loss.


Hearing Loss Can Affect Anyone

Most people think of age-related hearing loss (the loss of the hair-like cells in your inner ear), or people who were born without hearing. But losing your hearing can happen to anyone anytime without an explanation. Even excessive earwax can cause hearing loss, but more common causes include:

  • Exposure to loud noises, including construction equipment, power tools, concerts, movies, and other high-decibel sounds without protection.
  • Listening to music too loud in earphones
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear, especially after loud concerts and movies)
  • Traumatic brain and other injuries to the head
  • Tumors and other growths in the ear area
  • Medications for conditions such as cancer and infections (antibiotics)
  • Sudden altitude and pressure changes during flying (or even driving)
  • Diseases in children such as:
    • Chickenpox
    • Smallpox
    • Meningitis
    • Measles
    • Mumps
  • Other chronic illnesses such as:
    • Heart disease and hypertension
    • Autoimmune diseases (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lupus)
    • Diabetes
    • Strokes

Veterans may have some of these causes, but their hearing losses are more commonly caused by experiences in the military, such as gunfire, transport, airplane and helicopter engines, and other artillery explosions (i.e., hand grenades.)

Like any VA disability claim, you’ll be required to establish a service connection for your hearing loss.

Three Steps

Just filling out an application will not help you get rated. In order to apply, you’ll need:

  • A current diagnosis of hearing loss from a licensed audiologist, who will administer two different diagnostic tests to be submitted to the VA:
    • Maryland CNC Test, which uses a 50-word list to determine how well you can recognize speech
    • Puretone Audiometric Test, which measures the lightest sounds you can pick up on and hear
    • Note: when you’re being tested, remove any hearing aids and let the audiologist know you’re taking this test to satisfy the VA’s requirement for establishing a service connection.
  • Establishment of a service connection, which may include examining your service records for evidence of any types of activity that could have contributed to or caused your hearing loss. Wartime service can be used to make that connection as well.
  • A corroborating medical opinion, one that can effectively link your hearing loss to your time in service

It’s not uncommon for hearing problems to develop some years after your discharge—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t service related. If you can demonstrate that you were exposed to loud noises during your time in the service, you still may be able to establish a service connection for your hearing loss.

Meniere’s Disease

This inner-ear disorder causes a number of symptoms, including hearing loss, vertigo, tinnitus, and pressure or “fullness” in the affected ear. It normally affects only one ear, and can also include fluid in the ear. While there are treatments for Meniere’s Disease, there is no cure.

The VA does rate on Meniere’s Disease, as much as 100% if you’re experiencing weekly bouts of vertigo and its related symptoms. Other inner ear disorders rate between 10% and 30%.

Hearing Loss Ratings

As with all disability ratings, the VA draws from the VA Schedule of Ratings Disabilities. Auditory (hearing) disorders are found under Section 4.87, in diagnostic codes 6200 to 6260. While tinnitus and hearing loss are common for veterans, there are other types of disorders that the VA will rate, including:

  • Cancer in the ear area. The VA gives a 100% rating for the six months following the end of treatments.
  • An inner ear problem called “peripheral vestibular disorder” rates at 10% if it causes you dizziness on occasion, and 30% if your dizziness is accompanied by staggering
  • The loss of one ear (external) is a 30% rating, whereas the loss of both ears rate at 50%, assuming that you have at least some hearing despite the loss of the ear itself.
  • The VA rates all cases of perforated eardrums at 0%.

If you have total hearing loss in both ears, you may also be eligible for a special monthly compensation.

Herren Law Can Help With Your VA Disability Benefits Claim

The VA does award disability benefits for hearing loss, but you have to apply, as you would for any type of disability. We can help make sure that your application is done correctly, and can also help with an appeal if your claim is denied.

Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

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