The military can be a physically and mentally demanding career, and as a result, many veterans may experience disabilities as a result of their service.
These disabilities can vary in severity and may affect veterans in different ways. In this blog post, we’ll explore ten of the most common VA disability claims filed by veterans.
Ten of the most common VA disability claims that veterans file in 2023 include:
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Hearing loss
- Musculoskeletal injuries (such as back pain or joint pain)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Scars or disfigurement
- Limitations in knee and ankle movement
- Migraine headaches
- Respiratory conditions (such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Gulf War Syndrome
What VA disability claims are most common for each military branch?
Army and Marines
Soldiers who are frequently on foot walking and running, like those in the Army and Marines, will frequently experience conditions that relate to their constant movement and carrying heavy loads.
Exposure to loud sounds from machinery and weapon-fire are very common.
Combat soldiers may also experience a variety of additional disabilities.
Some of the most common VA claims reported are:
- Spinal injuries and damage
- Musculoskeletal injuries (hands, arms, legs, feet, etc.)
- Amputations of limbs
- Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Soldiers and Pilots in the Air Force are exposed to a variety of conditions that could impact their health and well-being.
Hazardous noise exposure is very common among airmen.
Sounds above 85 dB can create hearing loss and tinnitus concerns over time, and a jet engine at a hundred feet away can measure over 140 dB.
Cosmic radiation, found in the upper atmosphere, is also a concern and can cause cancer.
The effects of g-forces on the body from flying can lead to damage to the spine and other areas of the body because of it’s intensity.
Asbestos exposure was also reported to be at higher numbers in the Air Force.
Again, combat-exposed Air Force members typically are prone to additional conditions.
Some of the common reported disability claims from Air Force service-members include:
- Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
- Cancers caused from radiation or asbestos exposures
- Spinal injuries
- Arms, legs, hands and feet injuries
- Mental Disorders
- Respiratory conditions
Airmen often experience higher levels of PTSD than other branches of the military, however they are less likely to report it due to fears of being disqualified from flying.
If you were a helicopter pilot, a survey conducted in 2010 found that 85% of helicopter pilots reported neck, back and leg pain as their number one concern.
Navy and Coast Guard
There are many common disability claims in the Navy that are similar to other branches, but being kept in close quarters puts them at risk for additional injuries.
Limited circulation in water-vessels also poses a risk of respiratory conditions because of constant inhalation of dangerous fumes.
Nuclear-powered vessels expose sailors to radiation exposure.
Cramped quarters and confined spaces lead to additional musculoskeletal injuries.
Those who experienced combat while in service may be prone to additional disabilities and conditions.
Some of the most commonly reported VA disability claims for Navy service-members include:
- Respiratory diseases
- Spinal injuries
- Musculoskeletal injuries (hands, arms, legs, feet, etc.)
Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
Tinnitus is a prevalent condition among veterans and is a constant ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. It can significantly impact a person’s daily life, making it difficult to concentrate or even hear others.
Tinnitus can be caused by exposure to loud noises, such as gunshots or explosions, which are common in a military environment.
The damage caused to the ears is irreversible and can worsen over time if the exposure continues.
Veterans who have served in combat zones are particularly at risk of developing tinnitus due to prolonged exposure to loud noises.
There is no known cure for tinnitus, but treatment options are available to manage symptoms.
Some veterans find relief from using hearing aids, which can amplify external sounds and reduce the impact of tinnitus.
Additionally, counseling and therapy can help veterans manage the emotional distress caused by tinnitus.
It’s important for veterans to seek medical attention for tinnitus as soon as possible, as it can affect their quality of life and ability to work.
Veterans may also be eligible for disability compensation for tinnitus, which can provide financial support for medical treatment and other related expenses.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
For veterans, PTSD is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact their daily lives and well-being.
PTSD can be caused by a variety of traumatic events experienced during military service, such as combat exposure, military sexual trauma, or other life-threatening situations.
Symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and avoidance of certain situations or activities that may trigger memories of the traumatic event.
Many veterans may not seek treatment for PTSD due to fear of stigma or a belief that seeking help is a sign of weakness.
However, it’s important to recognize that PTSD is a treatable condition, and seeking support is a sign of strength.
Treatment options for PTSD include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Therapy can help veterans process and manage their traumatic experiences, while medication can help alleviate symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Additionally, there are many resources available for veterans with PTSD, including support groups, online communities, and government-sponsored programs.
Veterans may also be eligible for disability compensation for PTSD, which can provide financial support for medical treatment and related expenses.
It’s essential for veterans to know that they are not alone in their struggles with PTSD and that there are many resources and support systems available to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
By seeking treatment and support, veterans can overcome the challenges of PTSD and lead fulfilling and meaningful lives after military service.
Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities among veterans.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that hearing loss and tinnitus are the two most prevalent service-connected disabilities among veterans.
Exposure to loud noises during military service can cause hearing damage, and veterans may also experience hearing loss as a result of aging.
The types of noise exposure that lead to hearing loss among veterans vary depending on their specific military occupation.
For example, veterans who worked in artillery units or were exposed to explosive blasts are at higher risk for hearing loss due to noise exposure.
Additionally, veterans who worked in aviation or around heavy machinery may also experience hearing loss as a result of high noise levels.
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a veteran’s daily life. It can affect their ability to communicate with loved ones, participate in social activities, and even perform job duties.
Many veterans also report feeling isolated or depressed as a result of their hearing loss.
Fortunately, there are treatment options available for veterans with hearing loss. These include hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices.
The VA provides hearing health services to eligible veterans, including diagnostic evaluations, hearing aid fittings, and auditory rehabilitation.
Musculoskeletal Injuries (such as back and joint pain)
Musculoskeletal injuries are common among military service members, especially those who serve in combat zones or engage in physically demanding activities.
These injuries can range from strains and sprains to fractures and joint dislocations.
They can result from a variety of causes, including carrying heavy loads, repetitive motions, and traumatic events like explosions or falls.
Some of the most commonly affected areas of the body include the spine, legs, knees, and feet.
Soldiers who frequently march or carry heavy loads are especially prone to back pain, spinal injuries, and foot and ankle injuries.
Additionally, the repetitive stress of running and jumping can lead to knee injuries like patellofemoral pain syndrome and meniscal tears.
Treatment for musculoskeletal injuries in veterans varies depending on the severity and nature of the injury.
Mild injuries can often be treated with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE), physical therapy, and pain management.
More severe injuries may require surgery and a longer recovery period.
Prevention is also key in reducing the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries in veterans.
Proper training, the use of appropriate gear and equipment, and the implementation of safe work practices can all help to minimize the risk of injury.
In addition, maintaining overall physical fitness and flexibility can help to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a common injury among veterans, particularly those who have experienced combat.
TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.
Symptoms can range from mild, such as brief confusion, to severe, such as prolonged unconsciousness or memory loss.
TBI is a significant issue for veterans, with an estimated 20% of all combat veterans experiencing TBI.
It can result from a variety of events in combat, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), land mines, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and other explosive blasts.
TBI can also result from non-combat injuries, such as falls or motor vehicle accidents.
Symptoms of TBI can include headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, difficulty concentrating, mood changes, and sleep disturbances.
These symptoms can last for varying lengths of time and can have a significant impact on a veteran’s quality of life and ability to function in their daily life.
Treatment for TBI can include a variety of therapies, including cognitive and behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy.
Medications may also be prescribed to manage symptoms such as headaches, seizures, or depression.
Preventing TBI is a top priority for the military, with efforts focused on improving vehicle and equipment design, reducing exposure to explosive blasts, and educating service members on the risks of TBI and ways to prevent it.
However, despite these efforts, TBI remains a significant issue for veterans and ongoing research and treatment efforts are needed to help veterans manage the long-term effects of this injury.
Scars and Disfigurements
Scars and disfigurements are common among veterans who have been involved in combat situations, explosions, burns, and other traumatic events.
These physical injuries can have a significant impact on a veteran’s quality of life, mental health, and ability to readjust to civilian life.
Scars and disfigurements can range from minor to severe, and can affect any part of the body.
In addition to physical pain, scars and disfigurements can also lead to psychological distress, social isolation, and reduced self-esteem.
In many cases, veterans with scars and disfigurements may require medical and cosmetic treatments to address their injuries.
These treatments can be costly and time-consuming, and may require ongoing care and follow-up appointments.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes that scars and disfigurements can be disabling and may impact a veteran’s ability to work or perform daily activities.
As such, veterans with these injuries may be eligible for VA disability benefits, which can provide financial assistance and access to healthcare services.
In addition to medical treatments and disability benefits, veterans with scars and disfigurements may also benefit from support groups and counseling services.
These resources can provide emotional support, help veterans adjust to their injuries, and improve their overall quality of life.
Limitations in Knee and Ankle Movement
Veterans who have served in the military often experience injuries that limit their knee and ankle movement.
These limitations can significantly impact their daily lives and ability to perform certain tasks.
The most common causes of knee and ankle injuries in veterans are related to physical demands of their military job, such as carrying heavy loads, jumping, running, and crawling.
Knee and ankle injuries can range from mild to severe, and can include sprains, strains, fractures, and dislocations.
Some common knee injuries include ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and meniscus tears, while ankle injuries include ankle sprains and fractures.
These injuries can cause chronic pain, swelling, and instability, making it difficult for veterans to engage in physical activity and even complete daily tasks such as walking or climbing stairs.
Veterans who experience limitations in knee and ankle movement often require ongoing medical care, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.
Rehabilitation can help to improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent further damage.
Assistive devices, such as knee braces or ankle braces, can also provide support and stability, allowing veterans to continue with their daily activities.
In addition to physical limitations, knee and ankle injuries can also have a significant impact on mental health.
Chronic pain and mobility limitations can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
It is important for veterans to seek support from medical professionals and mental health providers to manage both their physical and emotional needs.
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides disability benefits for veterans who have limitations in knee and ankle movement as a result of their service-related injuries.
These benefits can provide financial support and access to ongoing medical care, rehabilitation, and assistive devices.
It is important for veterans to seek out these resources and get the support they need to manage their injuries and improve their quality of life.
Migraine headaches are a common medical condition that can affect veterans.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), up to 20% of veterans experience migraines, making it one of the most prevalent conditions among veterans.
Migraines are a type of headache that can cause intense pain and other symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.
They can last for hours or days and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Veterans may be at increased risk for migraines due to a variety of factors, including exposure to loud noises, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Loud noises, such as gunfire or explosions, can trigger migraines, while TBI can lead to changes in brain chemistry that make a person more susceptible to migraines.
PTSD can also contribute to migraines by increasing stress levels.
Treatment for migraines in veterans can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and other factors.
Medications, such as triptans or anti-nausea drugs, may be prescribed to relieve symptoms.
Lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding triggers, can also help manage migraines.
The VA offers a variety of resources and support for veterans experiencing migraines.
Veterans can seek medical treatment at VA medical centers and clinics, and may be eligible for disability compensation if their migraines are service-connected.
Additionally, the VA provides education and training for healthcare providers to ensure that veterans with migraines receive appropriate care and treatment.
Respiratory conditions are prevalent among veterans, particularly those who have been deployed to areas with poor air quality, dust, smoke, and pollution.
These conditions can range from mild, such as allergic rhinitis or asthma, to severe, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.
Exposure to airborne hazards can cause both acute and chronic respiratory problems, which can lead to long-term disability.
One of the most significant respiratory conditions seen in veterans is asthma.
It is caused by exposure to various allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. Asthma can also be caused by exposure to chemical irritants, such as smoke, exhaust fumes, and other airborne pollutants.
The symptoms of asthma can range from mild wheezing and coughing to severe shortness of breath and chest tightness.
Veterans who have been exposed to these irritants may experience asthma symptoms long after leaving the military.
Another common respiratory condition in veterans is COPD.
COPD is a chronic lung disease that affects millions of people worldwide.
It is a progressive disease that can cause long-term disability and eventually lead to death. COPD is caused by exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke, pollution, and dust.
The symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. COPD can make it challenging to perform even simple tasks, such as climbing stairs or walking short distances.
Lung cancer is another respiratory condition that is prevalent in veterans.
Exposure to carcinogens, such as asbestos, radon, and other hazardous materials, can increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Smoking is also a significant risk factor for lung cancer, and many veterans smoke or have smoked in the past.
The symptoms of lung cancer include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue.
Early detection and treatment are essential for the best outcomes, but the disease can be challenging to diagnose in its early stages.
Gulf War Syndrome
Gulf War Syndrome, also known as Gulf War Illness, is a chronic multi-symptom disorder that affects veterans who served in the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
The exact cause of Gulf War Syndrome is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of environmental factors, such as exposure to toxic chemicals, as well as the stress of combat.
The symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome can vary widely and may include chronic fatigue, joint pain, headaches, respiratory problems, memory loss, and gastrointestinal problems.
These symptoms can be debilitating and may persist for many years after the veteran has returned from service.
Research into Gulf War Syndrome is ongoing, and there is currently no known cure.
However, treatment options are available to manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life for veterans suffering from this condition.
These may include medications, such as pain relievers and antidepressants, as well as therapy to address psychological symptoms, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition to treatment, there are also steps that veterans can take to manage their symptoms and improve their overall health.
These may include maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, getting regular check-ups with their healthcare provider, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins.
It is important to note that Gulf War Syndrome can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions.
Therefore, it is important for veterans who served in the Gulf War and are experiencing unexplained symptoms to seek medical attention and discuss their service history with their healthcare provider.
In conclusion, the top ten disabilities in veterans are varied and complex, ranging from physical injuries to mental health disorders.
Veterans who have served in different branches of the military or who have been deployed in different conflicts may have a higher risk of certain disabilities or conditions.
It is important to recognize the sacrifices made by our veterans and to ensure that they have access to the care and support they need.
This includes proper diagnosis and treatment of disabilities related to their service, as well as ongoing support for their mental and physical health needs.
For veterans who are applying for disability benefits, it can be a daunting and overwhelming process.
However, it is important to remember that these benefits are an important way to help veterans receive the care and support they need to live a full and healthy life.
Veterans should seek the assistance of qualified professionals to guide them through the process of applying for benefits.
Want to know more about the claims process or help with filing an appeal?
If you are intending to appeal a denied claim, you can contact us for an evaluation and we can help you with this process.
However, if you are considering filing an initial claim, or even if you are interested in learning about the appeals process, we offer a free ebook to get you started on the right foot!
The Road to VA Compensation Benefits will help break down the claims process from start to finish. Click the link below to learn more.
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