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WELCOME. WEEK FIVE. Visual Impairment 38CFR 4.75(a). The term “visual impairment” refers to a result of an eye disorder or condition. The evaluations for visual impairment are based on: Impairment of visual acuity (va) Impairment of visual field, and

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visual impairment 38cfr 4 75 a
Visual Impairment 38CFR 4.75(a)

The term “visual impairment” refers to a result of an eye disorder or condition.

The evaluations for visual impairment are based on:

  • Impairment of visual acuity (va)
  • Impairment of visual field, and
  • Impairment of muscle function.

Visual Acuity 38CFR 4.76

(b) Base visual acuity evaluations on corrected, distance vision

Examinations 38CFR 4.75
  • Exams must be conducted by licensed optometrists and ophthalmologists.
  • A diagnosis is required for abnormal findings.
  • Exams of visual fields and muscle function are needed only when medically indicated or when specially requested, such as in BVA remand.
eye complications due to diabetes and hypertension
Eye complications due to diabetes and hypertension
  • Most common: retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract
  • Retinopathy is a general term that refers to some form of non-inflammatory damage to the retina. It is frequently a manifestation of systemic disease.
  • Two types: background diabetic retinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
glaucoma 6012 and 6013
Glaucoma 6012 and 6013
  • Glaucoma is a general term for a group of diseases that produce damage to the optic nerve and decreased peripheral vision.
  • Secondary glaucoma: diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, steroids …
cataracts and aphakia 6027 6029
Cataracts and Aphakia6027, 6029
  • Cataract – opacity or cloudiness in lens.

To evaluate: use visual impairment for either preoperative or post operative cataracts with replacement lens.

  • Aphakia – absence of the lens.

To evaluate: use visual impairment elevated by one step but assign a minimum 30%, unilateral or bilateral.

paired organs 38cfr 3 383
Paired Organs 38CFR 3.383

IF one eye is SC and not the other, and

each eye is at a visual acuity of 20/200, or

each eye peripheral field is 20 degrees or less,

and the NSC problem is not due to misconduct,

THEN compensation is payable “as if” both eyes

were service connected.

hearing loss


Service Connection and

Evaluation of Ratings

service connection requirements
  • Medical evidence of a current disability
  • Medical or, in certain circumstances, layevidence, of in-service incurrence or aggravation of a disease or injury
  • Medical evidence (opinion) of a nexus between the claimed in-service disease or injury and the current disability
hearing loss 38 cfr 3 385
Hearing Loss – 38 CFR3.385
  • Any threshold loss of 40 decibels or greater in the 500 – 4000 hertz frequency range, or
  • Thresholds for at least three of the frequencies in this range being 26 decibels or greater, or
  • Speech Recognition score of less than 94 percent in accordance with the Maryland CNC Test.
cavc hensley v west 1993
CAVC - Hensley v. West, (1993)
  • Establishes that a hearing loss under 38 C.F.R. § 3.385 does not have to be shown during service to establish service connection (38 C.F.R. § 3.303(d))
presumptive service connection
Presumptive Service Connection
  • October 1995 VHA Memorandum: “it would be appropriate to consider high frequency sensorineural hearing loss an organic disease of the nervous system and therefore a presumptive disability.”
  • Tinnitus has not been conceded in such manner; however, a finding of tinnitus within one year after discharge typically cannot be dissociated from service. VA physicians have been instructed to opine that tinnitus “at least as likely as not” due to service if claimed or diagnosed within a year after separation.
overcoming adverse decisions
Overcoming Adverse Decisions
  • 38 U.S.C. § 1154(b); 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(d)
  • VA General Counsel Precedent Opinion 12-99 (October 18, 1999) – provides definition of when the status of “combat veteran” is conferred. Combat status not wholly contingent upon awards or citations, but all evidence will be considered and resolved on a case-by-case basis with all reasonable doubt applied.
overcoming adverse decisions1
Overcoming Adverse Decisions
  • Lay evidence – buddy statements, letters from friends and family, etc … See 38 C.F.R. § 3.159(a)(2).
  • Medical treatises – may be used to corroborate veteran’s claims of service incurrence of audio disability and, in some cases, support a nexus between current disability and service. Most effective when submitted in conjunction with a medical opinion.
supportive medical opinions
Supportive Medical Opinions
  • Include audiometric findings and results of any other clinical tests. Physician should identify specialty and note treatment history with veteran. Have physician review SMRs and other pertinent records and note in the report that such records have been reviewed. If negative VA opinion has been rendered, physician should review this and comment as well. Opinion should be in as definitive language as possible and written in clear prose with a succinct, but thorough rationale. Inclusion of as many of these elements as possible will heighten the probative value of the evidence and increase the veteran’s prospects for a successful claim.
  • VHA Directive 2000-029 clearly provides authority for treating VA physicians to render opinions on behalf of veteran patients’ claims for VA disability benefits.
rating hearing loss
Rating Hearing Loss
  • Tables VI, VIA, and VII of 38 C.F.R. § 4.85.
  • Examiner must be state-certified audiologist. Examination must include speech discrimination and audiometric testing. Testing will be conducted without hearing aids.
  • Hearing loss ratings typically predicated upon the average threshold loss of 1000-4000 hertz frequencies combined with the percentage of speech discrimination in Table VI for each ear.
hearing loss ratings
Hearing Loss Ratings
  • If only one ear is service connected, the non service-connected ear will be assigned a Roman Numeral of 1 in order to determine percentage of evaluation in Table VII. 38 C.F.R. § 4.85(f)
  • Notable exception to this rule is that if a 10 percent rating, Roman Numeral X, is shown in the service-connected ear. This will allow the non service-connected ear to be rated as if service connected in conjunction with the service-connected ear for rating purposes. 38 U.S.C. § 1160(a)(3).
exercise 1 is there an audio impairment per 38 cfr 3 385
Exercise #1: Is there an audio impairment per 38 CFR 3.385?

Maryland CNC: 95 right ear, 93 left ear.

Thresholds: Right ear Left ear

500 30 20

1000 25 20

2000 30 30

3000 25 25

4000 30 25

6000 40 40

exercise 1 answer
Exercise #1 Answer
  • Yes, there is audio impairment in both ears.

The right ear because 3 decibel losses are 30.

The left ear because the speech recognition score is less than 94.

exercise 2 find the pure tone averages
Exercise #2: Find the pure tone averages

500 15 15

1000 25 45

2000 30 45

3000 30 - inconsistent

4000 45 70

6000 60 90

Average: Right __ Left __

exercise 2 answers
Exercise #2 Answers
  • Right ear puretone average is 33

25+30+30+45 = 130 ÷ 4 = 32.50

  • Left ear puretone average is 53.

45+45+70 = 160 ÷ 3 = 53.33

exercise 3 what is the numeric designation of hearing impairment
Exercise #3: What is the Numeric Designation of Hearing Impairment?

Maryland CNC: 95 right ear, 90 left ear.

Thresholds: Right Left

500 30 20

1000 25 30

2000 30 35

3000 25 40

4000 30 65

Average: ___ ___

ND: ___ ___

exercise 3 answers
Exercise #3 Answers
  • Right Ear

Pure tone average is 27.5 = 28.

CNC 95. The ND is I.

  • Left Ear

Pure tone average is 42.5 = 43.

CNC 90. The ND is II.

exercise 4 what is the percentage evaluation both ears are sc
Exercise #4: What is the Percentage Evaluation? Both ears are SC.

Maryland CNC: 88 right ear, 74 left ear.

Thresholds: Right ear Left ear

1000 35 40

2000 50 60

3000 65 70

4000 75 85

Average: 56 64

exercise 4 answer 10
Exercise #4Answer: 10%

Right ear numeric designation is II.

Left ear numeric designation is V.

Using Table VII, the better ear is II and

the poorer ear is V. These numbers

intersect at 10.

paired organs 38 cfr 3 383 a 3
PAIRED ORGANS 38 CFR 3.383(a)(3)
  • When only one ear is service connected, the non-service connected ear will be considered service connected, if
  • the hearing loss in that ear meets the definition of hearing loss as defined by 38 CFR 3.385, AND
  • the service connected ear hearing loss is evaluated 10% or more.
tinnitus dx code 6260
TINNITUS Dx. code 6260
  • Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of an acoustic stimulus.
  • It is subjective only.
  • It may occur as a symptom of nearly all ear disorders; ototoxicity due to medicines and other agents; anemia; cardiovascular disease; acoustic trauma; hypothyroidism; and head trauma.
  • Maximum evaluation = 10%
special monthly compensation and ancillary benefits
Special Monthly Compensation and Ancillary Benefits
  • 38 U.S.C.1114(k), (l), (m), (m), (o), (p)
  • (38 CFR 3.350)
  • §3.808 Automobiles or other conveyances
  • §3.809 Specially adapted housing
  • §3.809a Special home adaptation grants

Special Monthly Compensation

VA can pay additional compensation to a veteran who, as a result of military service, incurred the loss or loss of use of specific organs or extremities.

38CFR 3.350


What Is Considered Loss or Loss of Use?

Loss, or loss of use, is described as either an amputation or, having no effective remaining function of an extremity or organ.

The disabilities VA can consider for SMC include:


loss, or loss of use, of a hand or foot

  • immobility of a joint or paralysis
  • loss of sight of an eye (having only light perception)
  • loss, or loss of use, of a reproductive organ
  • complete loss, or loss of use, of both buttocks
  • deafness of both ears (having absence of air and bone conduction)
  • inability to communicate by speech (complete organic aphonia)
  • loss of a percentage of tissue from a single breast, or both breasts, from mastectomy or radiation treatment

The VA will pay higher rates for combinations of these disabilities such as loss or loss of use of the feet, legs, hands, and arms, in specific monetary increments, based on the particular combination of the disabilities.

There are also higher payments for various combinations of severe deafness with bilateral blindness.

Additional SMC is available if a veteran is service connected for paraplegia, with complete loss of bowel and bladder control.


If a veteran is service connected at the 100% rate and is housebound, bedridden, or is so helpless to need the aid and attendance of another person, then consideration of payment of additional SMC can be considered.

The amount of SMC will vary depending on the level of aid and attendance needed.




ancillary memorandum ratings ratings of entitlement
  • Memorandum rating decisions are ratings for specific purposes.
  • Determining basic entitlement to ancillary benefits
    • Providing information to other services and agencies
definition ancillary benefits
Definition Ancillary Benefits

Ancillary benefits are:

  • Secondary benefits that are considered when evaluating claims for:
    • Compensation


    • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

Eligibility for ancillary benefits is contingent on the type of disability entitlement the veteran has or the circumstances of the veteran’s death.

ancillary ratings

- Clothing Allowance

  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA)
  • Loan Guaranty Mortgage Insurance or Survivor
  • Automobile Allowance
  • Adaptive Equipment Allowance
  • Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
  • Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant
  • Competency/Incompetency
  • Homicide
  • Veterans Civil Service Preference
  • Adult Helpless Child
ancillary ratings1

Clothing Allowance 38 CFR 3.810

Vocational Rehabilitation 38 CFR Part 21

Dependents Educational Assistance (DEA) 38 CFR 3.807

CHAMPVA 38 CFR 17.270 – 17.278

Loan Guaranty 38 CFR 3.805

Automobile Allowance 38 CFR 3.808

Adaptive Equipment Allowance 38 CFR 3.808

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant 38 CFR 3.809

Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant 38 CFR 3.809a

Competency/Incompetency 38 CFR 3.353

Homicide 38 CFR Part 3 Subpart A 3.11

Veterans Civil Service Preference 38 CFR 3.357

Adult Helpless Child 38 CFR 3.356

voc rehabilitation ch 31
  • Service connected condition must be:
      • 10 percent with a serious handicap, or
      • 20 percent with an employment handicap, and
      • be discharged or released from military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
  • Service member pending medical separation from active duty may apply, but the disability rating must be at least 20 percent.
voc rehabilitation cont
  • Period of Eligibility:
    • 12 years from the latter of the following:
    • date separated from active military service, or
    • date veteran was notified of a qualifying service-connected disability rating.
    • NOTE: Eligibility period may be extended if Vocational Rehabilitation determines the veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap
voc rehabilitation cont1
  • maximum of 48 months
  • VA pays cost of services
  • training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
  • subsistence allowance for participate
  • On-The-Job Training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
  • work study with VA
voc rehabilitation cont2
  • Benefits (Cont):
  • evaluation to determine abilities, skills, interests, and needs
  • counseling and rehabilitation planning
  • employment services
  • use of special employer incentives
  • case management, counseling, and referral
  • independent living services
  • Application: VA Form 28-1990, Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation
clothing allowance
  • Eligibility:
  • service-connected disability that

requires a prosthetic or

orthopedic device that wears out clothing.


  • veteran uses medication for a skin condition that causes damage to outer garments.
clothing allowance cont
  • Benefit:
      • Annual Payment
      • Payment $741.00
      • Benefit effective August 1 annually
      • Payment date September 1st
      • VA Form 10-8678, Application for Annual Clothing Allowance
automobile allowance
  • Eligibility :
  • Anatomical loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both feet, or
  • Anatomical loss, or permanent loss of use, of one or both hands, or
  • Permanent impairment of vision of both eyes under with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye w/corrective lenses, or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is qualifying visual field defect.
auto allowance cont


To purchase a new/used automobile:

  • disability must be result of injury/disease incurred or aggravated by activity military,


  • result of medical treatment, examination, voc rehab

or compensated work therapy provided by the VA

auto allowance cont1
  • Benefit:

The grant is paid directly to the seller of the automobile for the total price (up to $18,900) of the automobile. The veteran or service member may only receive the automobile grant once in his/her lifetime.

  • Application:
  • VA Form 21-4502, Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment
adaptive auto equipment
  • Eligibility:
  • Veterans eligible for Automobile Allowance are also eligible for Adaptive Equipment Allowance.
  • Eligible for Adaptive Equipment Allowance but not for Automobile Allowance:
  • SC ankylosis of one or both knees or hips
adaptive auto equipment cont


  • adaptive equipment includes, but is not limited to
  • power steering
  • power brakes
  • power window lifts
  • power seats
  • special equipment necessary to assist veteran into / out of automobile or other conveyance.
  • Application: VA Form 21-4502, Application for Automobile or Other Conveyance and Adaptive Equipment
specially adapted housing sah grant
  • Eligibility:
  • Qualifying Conditions must have:
      • incurred in active military, or
      • aggravated by active military, or
      • result of hospital care, medical, surgical treatment or examination at a VA medical facility, or
      • participation in compensated work therapy program, or
      • pursuing course of vocational training
specially adapted housing sah grant cont
  • Eligibility (Cont.):
  • Qualifying Conditions:
  • permanently & totally disabled, and
    • “preclude locomotion” without braces, crutches, canes, or wheelchair due to loss, or loss of use of
    • both lower extremities, or
    • one lower extremity & residuals of organic disease / injury, that affects balance / propulsion, or
    • one lower extremity, & one upper extremity, that affects balance / propulsion
specially adapted housing sah grant cont1
  • Qualifying conditions continued:
  • loss, or loss of use, of both upper extremities at or above the elbow, OR
  • blindness in both eyes, light perception only, & loss or loss of use of one lower extremity.
  • Note: "Preclude locomotion" necessity for regular, use of wheelchair, braces, crutches or canes as normal mode of locomotion, although occasional locomotion by other methods may be possible.
specially adapted housing sah grant cont2


  • To help provide a barrier-free living environment that affords the individual a level of independent living they may not otherwise enjoy
  • Grant for the purpose of constructing or modifying a home to meet adaptive needs currently limited to $60,000.

Application: VA Form 26-4555d, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Special Housing Adaptations

special housing adaptation sha grant
  • Eligibility:
    • P&T SC disability of:
    • blindness in both eyes with

5/200 visual acuity or less, or

    • anatomical loss or loss of use of both hands.
    • The permanent and total disability is due to a severe burn injury (as so determined)
special housing adaptation sha grant cont


  • Modify an existing home to meet adaptive needs, such as assistance with mobility throughout the home
  • Grant currently limited to $12,756


  • VA Form 26-4555d, Veterans Application for Assistance in Acquiring Special housing Adaptations
hisa authority
  • a. Title 38 USC Section 1717 is the authority for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide HISA grants to eligible veterans.
  • b. The HISA benefit is limited to improvement & structural alterations necessary to assure the continuation of treatment and/or provide access to the home or to essential lavatory & sanitary facilities
hisa grants
  • A. HISA grants provide for medically necessary improvements and/or structural changes to the veteran’s residence for the following purposes:
  • (1) Allowing entrance & exit from the veteran’s residence.
  • (2) Use of essential lavatory & sanitary facilities.
  • (3) Allowing accessibility to kitchen or bathroom sinks or counters.
  • (4) Improving entrance paths or driveways in immediate area of the home facilitate access to the home by the veteran.
  • (5) Improving plumbing or electrical systems made necessary due to installation of dialysis equipment in the home.
hisa eligibility
  • Veterans receiving treatment from the DVA under the auspices of 38 USC 1710 are eligible for HISA benefits as follows:
  • (1) $6,800.00 lifetime HISA benefits for:
    • (a) Service connected condition.
    • (b) NSC conditions of a veteran rated 50% or more SC.
    • (c) NSC condition of veteran in receipt of 1151 benefits.

2. $2,000.00 lifetime HISA benefit when necessary for treatment of a NSC condition of veterans who are:

    • (a) Rated less than 50% SC.
    • (b) Discharged or released from active duty for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
    • (c) Former POW’s, veterans of the Mexican Border period or WWI.

(d) Unable to defray the expenses of necessary care as determined under 38 USC 1722(a), ie., veterans who qualify through means testing, as determined via Medical Care Cost Fund.

(e) Eligible for benefits under 38 USC 1710(a)(f) and (e), due to exposure to a toxic substance, radiation, or an environmental hazard. (priority group 6)

va life insurance
VA Life Insurance

Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veterans Disability Life Insurance (RH)