Does Hearing Loss Qualify As A Disability? The impact of hearing loss can be incredibly profound, both on an emotional level but also from a logistical point of view. Hearing impairment can affect your ability to perform the duties of your job, depending on your occupation, and in younger people, it can create barriers requiring additional equipment and attention for schooling.
One of the first things you might wonder about when you or someone you love suffers a sudden loss of hearing or is born with hearing impairment is whether or not the condition, for the purposes of SSDI or SSI, qualifies as a disability. If you’re not sure where to start when navigating this new terrain, let’s go over some basics about loss of hearing and discuss whether or not hearing problems can qualify as a disability.
How is hearing loss defined?
Loss of hearing occurs when any part of the auditory system isn’t functioning as it should. There are four major types of hearing impairment. Conductive loss occurs when something is blocking sounds from getting through the ear and is often fixable via medication or surgery. Sensoineural loss occurs when there is a problem in the inner ear or hearing nerve. Mixed loss includes both conductive and sensoineural loss. Finally, there is auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, which occurs when sound enters the ear but isn’t composed in a way the brain can process.
There are also varying degrees of loss of hearing, commonly categorized into four types (mild, moderate, severe, and profound). Mild loss of hearing may involve simply missing softer sounds, moderate loss involves hearing little-to-no speech at a normal volume, severe loss entails hearing no speech at normal volume and minimal louder sounds, and profound loss is defined as not being able to identify any speech and only being able to hear certain loud sounds.
Depending on the type of loss, the hearing healthcare recommended may vary. You may need a hearing aid or assistive device, or you may find that you can do without one. Your needs and specific issues, some hearing issues are accompanied by secondary issues like tinnitus (ringing in the ears), will determine your course of treatment. The best place to start, of course, is a professional hearing test by a medical professional such as an audiologist.
How is hearing commonly lost?
There are many ways to lose hearing. Some hearing problems begin at birth, and some hearing loss is sustained over time via age, illness, or trauma. Damage to the inner ear can cause loss of hearing, which can be caused simply by aging and exposure. Ear infections, abnormal bone growths, and tumors can also affect hearing, as can sustaining a ruptured eardrum. Eardrum ruptures are associated with loud blasts of noise, sudden changes in pressure, trauma, or infection.
If you’ve been an accident victim or sustained a personal injury that was caused by another business or indivdual, especially due to negligence, you may want to pursue a lawsuit. A settlement can result in fair compensation to help cover medical bills and give you a cushion as you recover and evaluate what your financial situation is. If your hearing loss affects your ability to do your job, you may even be entitled to lost wages. A personal injury attorney can help you figure out whether or not you have a case and what fair compensation you may be entitled to. If you’re in North Carolina, it’s easy to find a Raleigh North Carolina injury lawyer with expertise in disability issues and helping injury victims file injury claims. Be prepared with the facts of your case and make a phone call so you can sit down with an attorney at a personal injury law firm and get professional legal advice before you move forward.
Does losing your hearing qualify as a disability?
While SSA does recognize the loss of hearing as a disability, it depends on the individual case of the injured victim. Only those with severe or profound loss qualify for SSDI or SSI disability benefits. The SSA has specific measurements that it uses to define whether your degree of hearing loss is eligible for assistance. The average hearing threshold for the better ear must be 90 decibels or greater and a hearing threshold of 60 decibles or greater, documented through air and bone conduction tests. You must also have a word recognition score of 40% or lower in the better ear, proven via tests using standardized, phoenetically balanced words. Talk to your doctor if you’re planning to apply for disability benefits so that they can help walk you through the process to increase the likelihood of your application being accepted.
While losing your hearing is a major life change that brings many challenges and emotions along with it, working with a healthcare professional such as an audiologist can help you identify what types of treatments might work for you. Your doctor can even help you apply for disability benefits if your hearing loss is severe enough to qualify. If possible, don’t be scared to retain a personal injury attorney and look into what punitive damages or compensatory damages you may be entitled to. While managing a loss of hearing can be difficult, there are resources available to you to help both mentally and financially as you move forward if you’re willing to seek them out.
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