Being in the military is inherently risky, with just about anyone in military service being at high risk of suffering a disabling injury. Some injuries are more common than others, and ttend to be more commonly approved for disability benefits by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA). Here are five of the most common types of disabilities seen in veterans:
- Hearing impairment
- The single most commonly diagnosed disability among veterans is tinnitus, which is the formal term for ringing in the ears. Often, tinnitus is accompanied by varying degrees of hearing loss, the result of exposure to the loud noises generated by gunshots, explosives, vehicles, and other military equipment. While tinnitus on its own may not count for much, it is still a substantial disability which may earn veterans’ disability benefits.
- Mental health issues
- When people discuss disabilities among veterans, they may tend to focus on physical disabilities, but psychological disorders make up some of the most commonly diagnosed disabilities in veterans. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, which are often the result of being in hostile combat. These issues are particularly common among soldiers who suffer sexual assault during their service.
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- This category of disabilities includes a variety of common injuries seen in veterans, and broadly refers to any damage to a muscle or bone. This includes sprains, broken bones, joint damage, or injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. While some of these injuries may heal without too many long-term problems, many soldiers with musculoskeletal injuries are left with permanent pain or a loss of mobility to an injured muscle or bone.
- Scars are fairly common after severe injuries, but most often they appear as potential disabilities after major surgeries. In most cases, these scars only have a cosmetic effect, and relatively minor scarification will not be seen as a disability. However, if the scar tissue covers a sufficiently large part of the body to cause discomfort or impair mobility, it could constitute a disability.
- A relatively recent development in veterans’ disability benefits has been the increased recognition of “presumptive diseases” caused by military service. These presumptive diseases include various types of cancers, which veterans suffer at a rate disproportionate to civilian populations. Certain cancers are considered disabilities related to military service because they can be the result of exposure to carcinogenic compounds. The most famous example of this is Agent Orange, one of the so-called “Rainbow Agents” which was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War.
- Another surprisingly common source of disability claims among veterans is headaches. While a regular headache on its own may not constitute a disability, persistent or intense headaches may qualify, especially if they do not respond to conventional treatments. These intense headaches may be a sign of a traumatic brain injury, a symptom of an anxiety disorder, or could be caused by certain medications.
- Finally, veterans may suffer paralysis due to injuries suffered during service. This could involve the loss of the ability to walk, paralysis in a specific limb, or a more limited form of paralysis that does not fully immobilize a part of the body. For example, sciatica, which is a result of irritation or damage to the sciatic nerve, can result in limited mobility due to back, hip, or leg pain.
The attorneys of Sullivan & Kehoe place a special focus on assisting disabled veterans. Our veterans’ disability lawyers are still available for remote consultation on your legal issues. Call our office at (800) 395-7830 to schedule a consultation in our New York City, Garden City, Kings Park, Riverhead, or White Plains office, or visit our contact page.