Getting Veterans Disability Compensation for
The Veterans Administration (VA) does provide disability for vision problems. The VA uses a schedule or ratings disabilities called the Blue Book, and VA disability vision problems fall under section 4.97.
Veterans can receive disability for a number of vision problems, including:
• Loss of vision
• Loss of peripheral vision (tunnel vision)
• loss of light perception
• Blurry vision
• Double vision
• Timing Issues
Vision problems are very common among veterans and are usually the result of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). In particular, Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are particularly susceptible because of IED blasts and related instances. TBI can also affect the eye’s interior, but this trauma is not readily apparent. After a while, veterans can experience a loss of peripheral or even central vision, but it might take one to three years for signs to show up.
Some veterans may not experience a vision loss, but may experience double vision, blurry vision or sensitivity to light. They may also experience poor balance and headaches, and some of these vision problems can even cause hallucinations.
Your vision loss must be tied to your military service. That doesn’t mean combat service either; the problem can be tied to any military service. The VA will require a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist to perform your exam, and the VA also requires that certain tests be conducted regarding VA disability vision problems. One of two visual ability tests are accepted by the VA; one is the Goldmann kinetic perimetry test and the other is the automated perimetry test.
Perimetry is a method used to measure a patient’s sensitivity to different light sources within the person’s visual field. In both tests, objects (small spots of light) are presented to the patient, and the patient response is measured. The light spots are projected onto a curved surface at different locations across the visual field. The patient must react to the objects by pressing a button each time they see an object.
Regardless of which specific test is used, the VA does require that the test results must be reported on a Goldmann chart. Be sure your eye doctor is licensed, and ask the doctor to include the Goldmann chart with your examination report. The doctor may also perform other vision or eye tests, and the doctor must report a specific diagnosis of a disease or eye injury that is causing your eye impairment.
You must have a current diagnosis, and you must have proof that ties that diagnosis to an injury or illness that happened during your military service. There absolutely must be a clear link or nexus between the diagnosis and your service.
Often, in the case of visual impairments, veterans have trouble relating it back to a specific military event. This is how we can help. We will review your entire military record and determine events that may have led to the visual impairment. These are cases that may not be obvious to the veteran. We see many visual impairments caused by head injury, chemical exposure, or repeated exposure to bright lights.
The VA will then rate your eye or vision disability based on a percentage scale of 0 to 100 in increments of 10, with 0 indicating no disability and 100 indicating total disability. The VA provides the rating based on how well and how clearly you can see. The VA also determines how much you can see with your peripheral vision, and they also evaluate your eye mechanics, meaning how well your eye muscles function to properly move your eye. The VA looks at the severity of your condition and how it impacts your daily living. Ratings of 30 percent or higher may qualify you for benefits not only for yourself, but for your spouse or dependent children or parents. Certain VA disability vision problems entitle you to an additional monthly special compensation benefit. This benefit is available to you if you’ve lost the use of one eye.
Additionally, vision issues can lead to other health issues, so it is important to list all health problems and have proper medical examinations that detail all health issues.
Once you have your medical tests completed, you can apply by filling out the Application for Veterans Compensation and/or Pension. You can apply online or visit your local VA office. Many veterans wonder whether they need a lawyer to apply for VA disability. While it is possible to apply without a lawyer, you may have a better chance of being awarded benefits if you do hire a lawyer. VA rules are very complex, and many veterans find they are denied for lack of compelling evidence and failure to tie the vision problem to military service. Our attorneys have vast experience in working with the VA and we know how to present your application or dispute your previous denial.