Vets’ disability benefits for tinnitus, mental health issues may change

Published by Leo Shane III


(Charles Dharapak/AP)


Proposed changes to the Department of Veterans Affairs disability ratings system will mean lower payouts for veterans with sleep apnea and tinnitus in the future but higher payouts for veterans facing mental health challenges like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The changes are part of a months-long review of the department’s Schedule for Rating Disabilities, which governs how VA staffers evaluate and compensate veterans with service-connected injuries.


In a statement, Thomas Murphy, acting VA undersecretary for benefits, said the goal of the work was not to reduce or increase the number of veterans receiving disability benefits but instead to ensure that “veterans receive decisions based on the most current medical knowledge relating to their condition.”


For veterans currently receiving those payouts, the changes will not take away any existing benefits or lower their disability rating. They could see their ratings increased based on the changes, if the new rules end up more advantageous to their health situation.


But veterans who apply for benefits in the future will see a different set of standards applied to their cases than their older peers, and that could have significant financial ramifications for those individuals.


Under VA rules, a disability rating of at least 10 percent can mean monthly payouts of more than $140 for a veteran. One who receives a disability rating of 100 percent — either from a single service-related condition or a combination of injuries and illnesses — can get about $3,100 a month in disability compensation....


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