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Disability payments to veterans for hearing loss show a continuing upward trend, as demonstrated in the graph below.
Given the enormity of the increase in spending by the VA on hearing loss disability payments to former Navy personnel, it is important to find the sources of hearing loss in the Navy and then investigate ways to reverse this trend. This section of the Acquisition Safety website concentrates on the occupational safety and health challenges encountered while working in high noise level environments onboard Naval surface warships.
Noise exposure can be described by the intensity of the noise, its frequency, and its duration. The decibel scale uses powers of ten; an increase of ten decibels represents a ten fold increase in sound power.
The Navy considers any sound above 84dB as noise hazardous, or having the potential to cause hearing loss. Environmental noise is a concern with regard to environmental compliance and encroachment of military operations on adjacent civilian activities. A total systems engineering approach should be conducted in order to have effective acoustic solutions.
By teaming decades of Navy quiet ship design experience with ship builders' construction experience, a more effective noise proof ship design can be executed.
All sources of shipboard noise will potentially contribute to the overall shipboard noise level. Even though quieter equipment generally can be more expensive to purchase, the equipment is usually better built and has high efficiency.
The US Navy's DDX destroyers are being designed and built to be powered by an electric drive featuring integrated power system (IPS) architecture. That’s where you say one thing, and the VA understands it to mean something completely different.
This recently happened to a Veteran in his claim for an extra-schedular rating – he thought that his VA disability hearing loss payments were not enough. 1) First, compare the level of severity of the Veteran’s actual symptoms and limitations with the established criteria in the VA Impairment Ratings Table. 1) If your disability has symptoms and limitations that are not discussed in the VA Impairment Ratings Table, or the rating does not adequately compensate you due to a unique disability picture, be sure to tell the VA you want them to consider a claim for an extra-schedular rating under 38 CFR 3.321(b).
2) If the VA does not analyze your claim exactly as laid out above – or if they do not refer your case to the proper person for decision (see Thun Step #3) above, then make sure that you file a timely Notice of Disagreement to the Ratings Decision. 3) If the BVA still denies, consider reaching out to an attorney to appeal to the Veterans Court to raise a Thun violation before the Court. The Court is increasingly frustrated with the VA and BVA’s  improper analyses of these types of claims. But now I was just going to agree with them and say, but now my condition is worse and warrants the higher rating. You need the four frequency average in order to compare to the hearing charts (dB at 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz).
One has to have more than a "moderate" or even a "moderately-severe" hearing loss for compensation purposes.
Have you obtained hearing aid (s)?  They will provide them free and they will help considerably.
As Rusty mentioned, you need the 4 decibel losses at 1000-4000 hz to determine your percentage loss, and since you are already service connected you can file for an increase. The economic consequences to the Navy of hearing impairment include lost time and decreased productivity, loss of qualified workers through medical disqualification, military disability settlements, retraining, and expenses related to medical treatment, such as for hearing aids.


In 2004, the Veterans Administration (VA) spent $108 million dollars in disability payments to 15,800 former Navy personnel for hearing loss - an increase of $65 million in VA spending on Navy hearing disability payments since 1999. Specifications and guidelines for permissible noise levels and noise control measures can be found in the Resources Section. Intensity of noise reflects the loudness of the sound while the frequency of the noise is reflected in how high or low pitched the noise is.
Measurements obtained using the A-weighting scale provides a better estimation of the threat to human hearing than do other weighting scales.
The faintest sound humans with normal hearing can detect has a value between 0 and 10 decibels, and the loudest sound the human ear can tolerate without pain is about 120 decibels. Prolonged noise at levels greater than 84dB over an eight-hour period may result in temporary, and gradually permanent, hearing loss.
Hearing loss may result in diminished quality of life because of loss of ability to communicate and social isolation, as well as impaired and misinterpreted communication with family members, the public, and coworkers. Total ship systems engineering evaluates what is appropriate to integrate, as a function of location, into the acoustic design of a ship.
This approach entails developing effective design guidance to evaluate and recommend the appropriate amount of acoustic treatment for specific areas of the ship. Therefore, the entire ship should be measured and mapped for noise levels and their sources. Many such methods can be leveraged from existing surface ship and submarine acoustic programs. The most effective and efficient noise control method is the prevention or reduction of noise generation at the source. Noise emission values obtained from various suppliers can be compared with each other, and can be used for prediction of the noise levels in the area where equipment is to be placed.
The IPS helps to reduce noise and vibration aboard ship due to the elimination of the drive shaft and reduction gears found in traditional Navy ships. One of the distributive system airborne noise sources which runs through a significant area of aircraft carriers is the Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) hydraulic system on the gallery deck. This seemingly small change reduces the noise level from the JBD hydraulic system by 30dB (see Figure 7) and costs less than $500.00 per unit.
Even though his hearing loss had a profound impact on his ability to function in the world, the VA assigned him a 0% rating. Now, I have to turn up the TV so loud the kids and ole lady began nagging me to have my ears check, so I got'er done.I am hoping someone can relate my info to those charts the VA uses to rate hearing disability. Now, I have to turn up the TV so loud the kids and ole lady began nagging me to have my ears check, so I got'er done.I passed that but the audiologist recommended hearing aids. In addition to flight operation noise, there are numerous noise sources on deck and throughout Navy ships that exceed safe limits for all but the shortest exposures. The duration or length of time an individual is exposed to noise may have a significant detrimental impact on that person's hearing. The louder the sound and more prolonged the exposure, the shorter amount of time it takes to cause permanent hearing loss. On-the-job hearing loss can result in diminished ability to respond to warning signals in the work environment, which could lead to increased injuries resulting from impaired communication. The ideal way to develop this design guidance is to perform shipboard testing of various acoustic solutions. Before any course of action is adopted to maximize noise reduction, the vessel must be analyzed completely and a Computer Aided Design-based model should be constructed to depict structure, vibrational, and acoustical pathways.


A total ship engineering approach will include evaluation of the appropriate noise technologies and their integration into the ship design. This preventive approach avoids the need to redesign at a later stage and is more cost effective. These features help to reduce the operating and maintenance costs of the equipment, reducing its total life cycle cost.
This relatively inexpensive fix reduces the amount of noise energy from the JBD hydraulics that enters the environment of the gallery deck and the ship's structure. Lay evidence is going to be a HUGE factor – so make sure you have plenty to show all the symptoms and limitations outside the rating schedule.
Exposure to loud noise levels for short periods of time may cause temporary hearing loss (hearing is usually restored within 24 hours).
Temporary (short-term) hearing loss is often considered an indicator of the risk of permanent hearing loss with continued exposure. Noisy work environments can also result in missed commands with dire consequences to personnel and equipment, such as running aground or firing a missile at the wrong time. Below the flight deck is the gallery deck in which approximately 1400 sailors live and work. Shipboard testing will evaluate the effectiveness of the various acoustic treatment options and will assist in determining which areas require treatment. An additional benefit of reducing noise at its source is usually a commensurate increase in energy efficiency and machinery longevity.
Shipboard noise control is critical to the preservation of crew health, mission success, and personnel retention. This temporary threshold shift is often captured on periodic audiograms (hearing tests) and used to provide workers and medical staff with an early warning of potential permanent hearing loss.
Army studies show that noise-impaired communications affect combat performance (the likelihood of hitting the target and returning safely from a combat mission). Because of space constraints, air ducts used aboard ships are often very small and have sharp curves and bends.
The data generated by this effort will help control the business risk that shipbuilders will assume to meet the new design criteria. The economic effects of hearing loss to the Navy include lost time and decreased productivity, loss of qualified workers through medical disqualification, civilian workers' compensation costs, and military disability settlements, retraining, and expenses related to medical intervention such as hearing aids and audiometric testing. Gallery deck noise levels, often in excess of 100dBA, can have the effect of reducing cognitive skill levels and cause miscommunication problems, both causes of fatal accidents. This results in air moving through the ducts at very high velocities, causing noise and vibration in the ventilation system.
Finally, noise may be generated at the air duct outlets that distribute air in the work environment if proper design parameters are not followed. However, under conditions of hazardous noise levels in both occupational and recreational activities, there is limited or no audiological recovery time.



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