Hearing Loss & Disability Benefits

Hearing loss is a remarkably common but highly unfortunate disabling condition. According to some alarming findings recently published by the World Health Organization:

  • By 2050, nearly 2.5 billion (or roughly 1 in 4) people are projected to suffer from some level of hearing loss.
  • Over 1 billion adults are currently at risk of suffering permanent, preventable hearing loss.
  • Disabling hearing loss preys on the already underprivileged, as 80% of those who suffer it live in low-to-middle income areas.

Hearing loss can have minimal impact on the work in some fields and maximal impact on others. However, your ability to work music-oriented, audio engineering, and conversation-heavy jobs, for instance, could be significantly compromised by hearing loss.

Fortunately, Social Security and most disability insurance providers usually offer some form of compensation for those who suffer disabling hearing loss. And in the unfortunate event that your claim was unfairly turned away, you (fortunately) have legal avenues you can go down to challenge it.

Find out what level of hearing loss qualifies for disability benefits and how you should go about appealing any claims that you believe were unfairly rejected.

What Percent Of Hearing Loss Qualifies For Disability?

When trying to claim disability benefits for hearing loss through the Social Security Administration, there are a few things you should keep in mind: for starters, the SSA will want to see definitive evidence of your medical issues. This usually entails a physical examination from an otolaryngologist or another experienced physician who’d be qualified enough to perform such an exam.

You’re required to have a few hearing exams performed following that point, including audiometric testing, and potentially, auditory evoked response tests. From there, the SSA “blue book” around impairment rules has two different definitions of what constitutes hearing impairment: one for those with cochlear implants and one for those who don’t have them.

To qualify for the SSA’s standard of hearing loss, people without cochlear implants will need to have:

  • An air conduction threshold of 90 dB or worse
  • A bone conduction threshold of 60 dB or worse
  • Their hearing averaged at the sound frequencies of 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz

Once that criteria is met, you can then be eligible to receive SSA support and disability benefits. It’s worth noting that hearing loss must occur in both ears to qualify for benefits. Even if one ear is entirely deaf, you still won’t be able to receive income protection.

Usually, the SSA only offers benefits for severe, “profound” hearing loss, but there may be cases where they offer exceptions for more moderate hearing loss cases. To learn more about that, as well as their disability benefit rules at large, review the SSA’s official page on the matter.

How To Appeal Your Disability Claim

You cannot sue the SSA directly under law, but you can work with an experienced disability insurance attorney to appeal your case in court. You have 60 days from the date of your appeals’ court decision to deny, and you can do so by sending a formal complaint to your local federal court, which you can find here.

After that, the court will issue a summons, and you must then serve the summons at an SSA office. Following that, an SSA attorney will provide a formal answer, briefs must be filed, an oral argument may be made, and the federal judge overseeing your case will make a final decision. This process may take up to a year, but you’ll only have a 60-day window to start it, so don’t hesitate to contact an experienced disability attorney.