The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, often abbreviated “VA,” provides eligible veterans with a variety of healthcare services. One such service provided to those veterans who meet the eligibility criteria is being fitted with hearing aid devices. However, veterans are not automatically eligible to receive this service; they must meet certain requirements established by the Department.
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To receive hearing aids and hearing aid-related services, veterans must have a documented service-connected disability. This is defined as any disability, in the form of an injury or illness, that either occurred or was worsened while the veteran was in active military service. In the case of hearing loss, a hearing deficit that occurred as a result of an injury sustained while serving in the military or that was aggravated by the time spent in the military would be considered a service-connected hearing loss.A veteran who is unsure if his hearing loss is connected to his time in service should contact a Veteran’s Benefit Counselor; the counselor can then arrange for the appropriate examinations to determine if the hearing loss, or any other injuries, are service-connected.
Hearing Loss Related to Other Conditions
As outlined in the VA website’s section on eyeglasses and hearing aids, veterans are also eligible to receive hearing aid services if they have certain conditions or diseases that cause hearing loss. Examples of such conditions include traumatic brain injury, surgeries resulting in hearing loss, or chronic illness. The limitation dictated by VA regulations is that veterans with these conditions must be already getting care or treatment within the healthcare system of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Health Administration, or VHA.
Other VA Requirements for Hearing Aid Benefits
According to the Department for Veterans Affairs, veterans who do not meet the above requirements may still be able to get a hearing aid and hearing aid services through the VA, in some cases. Veterans might be eligible if they have a severe enough hearing loss that it interferes with their ability to perform basic activities of daily living or their hearing loss affects their ability to be involved in their own medical care. In addition, former Prisoners of War, recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, or those receiving benefits under a specific legal code--Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1151)--may also be eligible to receive a hearing aid from the VA.
Steps to Take to Receive a Hearing Aid from the VA
The first step a veteran with hearing loss should take is to make sure he is a registered veteran. Once he has registered, he should communicate with a Veteran’s Benefit Counselor so that a Compensation and Pension examination can be scheduled--this is when the service-connected disability is documented. When the hearing loss is documented as service-connected, the veteran can then make a call directly to an audiology clinic, where hearing tests will be done to determine how much hearing loss there is and be fitted for a hearing aid. Hearing aid-related services, such as provision of batteries, are also covered once a patient is receiving hearing aids through the VA.