The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced plans to revamp its process for scheduling the way it rates respiratory, auditory or mental-health conditions, with the intent of making “more accurate and consistent decisions,” the agency announced. Such rulings would be based on the most current information available about these conditions, VA officials said.
The updates would include:
• Evaluating sleep apnea to reflect how patients respond to treatment, bringing the rating process more in line with the rating schedule’s purpose.
• Tinnitus – ringing in the ears – would be evaluated as a symptom of an underlying disease “rather than a stand-alone disability,” VA said.
• Mental-health evaluations would be “based on a more robust and holistic approach that assesses how impactful the disability is to cognition, interpersonal relationships, task completion, life activities and self-care,” VA stated. Any veteran with one or more service-connected mental-health conditions would get a 10-percent minimum evaluation. Mental-health conditions would no longer require “total occupational and social impairment” to qualify for a 100-percent evaluation.
The proposed changes would not affect any veteran’s existing ratings.