Brown & Curry recently won a Missouri Air Force veteran a full 100-percent rating for Meniere’s syndrome secondary to tinnitus.
Meniere’s disease (a.k.a. endolymphatic hydrops) is an inner-ear disorder that produces vertigo spells and can be associated with hearing loss, tinnitus, or a feeling of fullness in the ear. It usually presents only in one ear.
Meniere’s syndrome can produce higher ratings than claims for hearing loss or dizziness. For dizziness, which is typically rated under DC 6204 (Peripheral vestibular disorder), the highest available rating is 30-percent, where the veteran can demonstrate dizziness with occasional staggering. A 10-percent rating is also available for those individuals who suffer occasional dizziness.
The VA rates Meniere’s disease under DC 6205, which provides a 30-percent rating for hearing impairment with vertigo less than once a month, a 60-percent rating for vertigo attacks with staggering at least once a month, or a full 100-percent rating for such attacks on at least a weekly basis. Be aware, though, that a rating for Meniere’s syndrome will not separate ratings for hearing loss, tinnitus or vertigo. Frequently, though, the Meniere’s syndrome rating is preferable because of the potential 100-percent rating. For more information, see the VA’s rating schedule for diseases of the ear.
Here is this Air Force veteran’s story: He served in late 1980s as a flight-line security specialist. He was stationed at Hahn Air Base in Germany. He was exposed daily to jet engine noise from F-16s. One day he woke up with intense pain in his left ear. His left ear was also swollen. It turned out to be a severe ear infection. Shortly after he was discharged, he started school to become a respiratory therapist. While walking down the hospital hallway, he was struck with a bout of vertigo. It was like the floor was spinning out beneath his feet. From then on, the dizziness never entirely went away. Family members would notice him staggering at home. He began taking medication to treat the dizziness. Eventually, his doctors diagnosed him with Meniere’s syndrome.
Brown & Curry was able to obtain evidence and a medical opinion to help in arguing for the 100-perent rating. He finally won after the VA told him “no” for five years.