A federal judge in Georgia has dismissed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for failing to provide veterans with access to hearing aids after they suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In a decision released Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James R. Leinonen said he “cannot conclude” that the VA had the right to refuse access to the devices and that the government has failed to prove that it was justified in its actions.
The hearing aids, known as Dejoys, are designed to help veterans to relax during intense, traumatic events.
The suit, filed in November 2014 by former VA employee Jennifer Schubert, alleged that the agency had refused to pay for the devices, citing concerns about the devices’ safety and the lack of research to support their use.
In May, the VA agreed to pay Schuber $3.8 million in a settlement that included $250,000 to cover her medical expenses.
Schubert told The Associated Press last month that she had received the hearing aids for more than a year, which she said made her feel “as if I was actually being heard.”
The VA said the hearing aid was part of its ongoing commitment to the disabled and was meant to help patients relax during physical and emotional events.
The department has denied the allegations, and said the Dejoy hearing aids were part of a “care delivery program” that included medical examinations, evaluations and other related visits.
VA officials said in a statement that the devices were not intended for the use of veterans with PTSD.
The agency also said in the statement that they were intended for use by other patients who have physical or psychological impairments.
More broadly, the department said the devices are not approved for use in veterans with mental health problems.
VA spokeswoman Ann McManus said in an email that the department was reviewing the decision and was reviewing other cases to determine if any are appropriate for appeal.