Hearing Aids for Veterans
Hearing loss and tinnitus are common issues veterans deal with after fighting for our country. It’s estimated that every year nearly one million veterans receive some type of compensation due to hearing loss. If you’ve served for our country, you may qualify for hearing aids and hearing benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA offers free or low-cost hearing aids through VA Health Benefits.
How do You Know if You’re Eligible?
How do I Start the Process of Getting a Hearing Aid?
Once you are approved for benefits, you will get a hearing test by a state-approved audiologist where you live. It’s important to note that not all veterans will qualify for a hearing aid. According to the VA’s 2014 directive, you are most likely eligible for a hearing aid if you fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Those with any compensable service connected disability.
- Those who are former Prisoners of War.
- Those who were awarded a Purple Heart.
- Those in receipt of benefits under 38 U.S.C. 1151.
- Those in receipt of an increased pension based on the need for regular aid and attendance or by reason of being permanently house-bound.
- Those who have a visual or hearing impairment resulting from the existence of another medical condition for which the Veteran is receiving VA care, or which resulted from treatment of that medical condition.
- Those with significant functional or cognitive impairment evidenced by deficiencies in activities of daily living, but not including normally occurring visual or hearing impairments.
- Those visually or hearing impaired so severely that the provision of sensori-neural aids is necessary to permit active participation in their own medical treatment.
The directive also states the following when it comes to hearing requirements that need to be met in order to receive a hearing aid:
- Hearing thresholds of 40 decibels (dB) hearing level (HL) or greater at 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, or 4000 hertz (Hz)
- Hearing thresholds of 26 dB HL or greater at three of the frequencies noted in paragraph 4c(1)(a)
- Speech recognition less than 94 percent
- The hearing loss is disabling, such that it affects their access to, active participation in, and/or provision of health care services (e.g., communication), and is considered to be clinical justification for hearing aids.
It’s important to be aware of the rules regarding hearing aids and Veterans’ benefits as not all veterans will qualify. Some many not qualify at all, while others may get 100% coverage, and others may have to pay co-pay.
What Type of Hearing Aid May I be Able to Get From the VA?
As of this writing, the VA had contracts with the following hearing aid companies:
- GN ReSound
- Siemens (Signia)
From those manufacturers, there are several different types of hearing aids available. Some of these include receiver in the canal, invisible in the canal, and behind the ear.
The extent of hearing loss, the veteran’s lifestyle, and preferences will all be taken into account when deciding which type of hearing aid is best.
If you’re a veteran and think you may be eligible for a hearing aid through the VA, contact your local office to get more information and begin the application process. Hearing issues can put people in dangerous situations which makes getting a hearing aid vitally important.