The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing changes to the VA Schedule for Rating Disabilities that pertain to respiratory, auditory and mental disorders, and this could be an important development for customers of Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Services (AVDAS).
The VA proposed these changes on Feb. 15, 2022, and members of the public have a 60-day period to provide comments. This provides the VA with the opportunity to evaluate feedback and possibly revise the proposed rules.
According to the VA, the agency has proposed these updates with the intention of incorporating the latest medical data and terminology.
Proposed Rule Changes: Sleep Apnea, Tinnitus, Mental Health
VA’s proposed rule changes include:
- Sleep apnea’s rating is currently based upon type of treatment. VA’s proposed changes will be based on the limitations imposed by the condition. For example, the current 50% rating is assigned if the veteran requires the use of an assisted breathing device such as a CPAP. The proposed change will require the veteran to present a sleep study that confirms sleep apnea treatment is ineffective or they are unable to use the prescribed treatment for a 50% rating. These changes will make it more difficult for veterans to achieve a 50% rating because the change requires a higher level of medical testing and documentation.
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, will be evaluated as a symptom of the underlying disease that causes it (hearing loss, Meniere’s disease, traumatic brain injury, etc.), instead of a standalone disability. This is a major change and may make it more difficult to achieve a rating for this condition. Veterans will no longer be able to just file for tinnitus, instead they’ll need to file for the medical condition that is causing it. Tinnitus is an easy condition for a veteran to self-identify without the need for a medical workup; however they may need additional medical testing and documentation that establishes the medical condition causing the tinnitus before they can properly file.
- Mental health conditions. The VA is proposing to end its 0% evaluation and provide a 10% minimum evaluation for having one or more service-connected mental health conditions. Also, these conditions will no longer require “total occupational and social impairment” to receive a 100% evaluation, which could make it easier for veterans to get a 100% disability rating. The scoring system VA is proposing could help veterans who have severe symptoms that were not properly considered in the present regulations, and veterans could get a higher rating under the new criteria.
Allsup VA-accredited claims agents are experts in the nuances of VA ratings and can help you understand the new ratings system and how it can affect your benefits – whether you have a rating or are going to file or appeal one.
Veterans Disability Benefits: How These Changes Affect You
- Veterans currently rated for sleep apnea, tinnitus or mental health – if you currently have one of these ratings, nothing will change for you. If you file for an increase, you will be rated under the set of regulations that provides you with the higher rating. The VA must assign you the higher rating that either set of regulations provides you.
- Veterans who have pending claims or appeals for sleep apnea, tinnitus or mental health – if you filed before the regulations are finalized, but are granted benefits after they go into effect, the VA must also use the regulation which gives you the higher rating.
- Veterans who file for these conditions after the regulations have changed will be rated only under the new criteria.
If you would like to provide comments to VA regarding these two proposed updates, you can do so via the Federal Register notices here and here. If you have questions regarding these changes, contact the VA at 800-827-1000.
Get Help from Allsup VA-Accredited Claims Agents Now
To get started with your veterans disability appeal, call Allsup Veterans Disability Appeal Services at (888) 372-1190.
You can also learn more at Allsup.com/veterans