During deployment or even if you remain stateside, veterans can become disabled in many different ways. Each year the Veterans Administration must provide Congress with a report related to VA disability benefits and compensation. A review of the report finds several disabilities that are the most common in veterans.
Getting a VA disability claim approved can be a complex, difficult, and frustrating process (Souce: https://www.disabledvets.com/). However, the following conditions are so common that it may be easier to get benefits than it would be with many other conditions.
According to the 2019 Annual Benefits Report, of the more than 1.5 million new disability claims processed by the VA that year, 183,145, or almost 9 percent, were due to tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is common in veterans due to noise exposure during their service. Tinnitus is an inner ear condition that can be caused by a close IED explosion, long hours of rifle fire, or exposure to heavy equipment for an extended period.
Symptoms of tinnitus include non stop ringing, buzzing, or roaring in the ears that only you can hear. Tinnitus can be debilitating as it diminishes your quality of life. The sound occurs around the clock, interrupting sleep, affecting concentration, and excluding you from social activities you used to enjoy.
The second most common disability reported by the VA is hearing loss, and this condition comes in second among all disability claims approved by the VA. Of the 2.7 million total claims approved, over 1.3 million, or just under 5 percent, were due to hearing loss. The hearing loss may not be related to tinnitus, but the causes are similar to those that may lead to ringing in the ears.
In the general population, only 2.5 percent of all people report severe hearing loss, while over 10 percent of veterans report loss of hearing, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Knee limitations, specifically limitations of the flexion in the knee, are another top claim the VA approves for veterans, with almost 1.2 million receiving compensation for a knee limitation. Knee injuries in the military are common, including torn ACLs or simply excessive joint loading that can increase the risk of osteoarthritis.
According to the CDC, 35 percent of veterans have some form of osteoarthritis compared to only 24 percent of the general population. Because arthritis is a degenerative disease, it can become disabling and debilitating.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another common claim that is approved by the VA. Although anyone who suffers a trauma can develop PTSD, it is very common among those who serve in the military, especially those who have been deployed to war zones. Of all claims filed that were approved by the VA, just over 4 percent were for PTSD.
The VA Administration estimates that as many as 20 percent of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom are diagnosed with PTSD, while around 12 percent of Gulf War veterans suffer from the disorder. It is estimated that 30 percent of Vietnam War veterans have suffered from PTSD in their lifetime. There are several factors that may lead you to develop PTSD including:
- Politics surrounding the war
- Type of enemy you face
- What you do in the war
- Where the war is fought
In addition, military sexual trauma can lead to PTSD. The VA reports that 23 percent of women reported sexual assault while in the military and 55 percent experienced sexual harassment. Men are not immune from harassment either as 38 percent of male military members have reported being sexually harassed while serving.
Because there are more men than women in the military, the VA reports that over half of the veterans who report sexual trauma are men even though military sexual trauma is more common in women.