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Can You File a Disability Claim for Hearing Loss?

Severe hearing loss is a disability under the Social Security Disability Act. Still, you must prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you meet all eligibility requirements to obtain Social Security Disability (SSD). The following tips may prevent you from encountering hang-ups or common struggles in the application process.

Is Deafness a Disability?

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), losing your hearing can qualify you for financial assistance because you have a disability. However, you must prove you have a total hearing loss and that your medical condition prevents you from participating in the workforce.

Deafness happens for one of several reasons. Harm to the inner ear caused by aging or constant exposure to loud sounds can make it challenging to hear everyday conversations. Higher pitched tones become challenging to discern, and you might not be able to listen to discussions among background noise. A simple occurrence such as the constant buildup of ear wax can block the entire ear canal and stop the transmission of sound waves. Acute ear infection and irregular bone growth in the inner ear can cause deafness as well.

“Is deafness a disability” hinges mainly on how the Social Security Administration (SSA) examines your hearing loss. The federal government agency uses a medical guide consisting of a list of disabilities called the Blue Book to review Social Security disability benefits applications. Hearing loss is outlined in Sections 2.10 and 2.11 of the Blue Book. A hearing test performed by a licensed doctor determines whether the severity of your hearing loss qualifies you to obtain financial aid for deafness.

Section 2.10 of the Blue Book lists hearing loss symptoms that aren’t treated by cochlear implants. Using a hearing aid device can limit the amount of money you obtain for a hearing loss disability.

Confirm That Your Hearing Loss Medically Qualifies You for Benefits

The SSA sets special measurements for what it considers disabling hearing loss:

  • An average hearing threshold of 90 decibels or more in the better ear, documented by air-conditioning tests, PLUS a hearing threshold in the better ear of 60 decibels or more, displayed through bone conduction tests
  • A word recognition score of 40% or less in the better ear is displayed by tests where lists of standardized, monosyllabic, and phonetically balanced words are utilized.

Let your physician know you want to apply for disability and ask them to examine the hearing loss Blue Book listing. An experienced doctor can ensure your medical records include the proper diagnostic tests and that your hearing evaluation results are recorded in the way the SSA needs.

Confirm Your Hearing Tests are Conducted as the SSA Requires

In addition to requiring particular results from your hearing tests, the SSA also requires your hearing tests to be conducted in a specific way and by the right individual. The physician that performs your hearing exams must be a licensed otolaryngologist or an audiologist that holds a license or is certified by:

  • The American Board of Audiology
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Your physician must also perform a physical examination of your ear before testing and must record physical findings, including the condition of your internal and external ear, tympanic membranes, and middle ear.

If you use hearing aids, your hearing evaluations must be conducted without them.

Verify and Document Your Hearing Loss is Serious Enough to Prevent Reasonable Accommodations by Your Employer

Hearing loss or deafness is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees and qualified job applicants with these disabilities. To obtain SSD benefits with hearing loss, you must establish your hearing issues are grave enough that they stop you from working in any job for which you would otherwise be qualified.

To accomplish this, you must document your previous jobs’ essential functions and duties. You must also clearly describe how your hearing loss stopped you from performing those essential job functions, even with reasonable accommodations.

If you can accomplish this, the SSA will see that your hearing loss will cause similar employment issues for you. This is a necessary finding for the SSA to give you disability benefits.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Because hearing loss and deafness are ADA-covered conditions, employers must accommodate workers with these disabilities. Getting approved for SSD benefits can be difficult by ADA considerations. Consider hiring an attorney familiar with hearing impairment disability claims. Our lawyers and Social Security advocates are accustomed to disability review processes and can increase your chances of approval. Contact us today.

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