Filing for Social Security Disability with Hearing impairments
People who have a hearing loss or some other type of hearing impairment can often face many adversities in life. When a loss of hearing requires someone to stop working, he or she may qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The information below provides valuable help for anyone who wants to apply for disability benefits due to a hearing impairment.
Proving Hearing Loss
Before disability benefits can be awarded, you will need to prove to the SSA that your condition exists by providing supporting medical evidence that supports your claim. The SSA will expect to see a copy of the results of a hearing test that was administered by either an audiologist or ENT doctor. Any person seeking disability benefits who cannot afford a hearing test can request that the SSA arrange for a free consultative examination from an approved audiologist or ENT.
Hearing Loss Tests
There are a few tests available for measuring hearing loss. The most common tests that are used when determining eligibility for disability benefits are the Pure-tone air conduction test and pure tone bone conduction test.
– The pure-tone conduction test is widely considered to be the best test for measuring hearing loss. The test transmits a series of beeps via a set of headphones to prompt a response from the testee. It is designed to test the subject’s minimum decibel required to hear a sound.
– The pure-tone bone conduction test tests hearing in the inner ear by sending electrical signals to the back of the skull through a headset.
Speech Recognition Testing
A speech recognition test is not required as a part of audiology testing. However, having this test done can be quite helpful when you are applying for disability benefits. Often, it is more difficult for someone with a hearing impairment to distinguish words than it is to hear a tone at a particular decibel level. Further, failing to understand spoken words can prevent you from performing many different types of jobs, especially those that require you to have interactions with coworkers or customers.
The Blue Book Listing for Hearing Impairments
The SSA has two listings for hearing loss in the Blue Book: Listing 2.10 and 2.11. Each of these listings has slightly different qualifications attached to it.
– Listing 2.10 pertains to people with hearing loss who have not received a cochlear implant. To qualify for benefits under this listing, you must meet the following requirements:
– You have an average air conduction hearing threshold exceeds 89 decibels in your better ear and have an average bone conduction hearing threshold of more than 60 decibels in the better ear or
– You have a score of 40% of lower in the better ear on a speech discrimination test.
– Listing 2.11 applies to people who have received cochlear implants. To be eligible for benefits under this listing, you must meet the following conditions:
– Disability qualification is automatic after the implant has been placed in the year for one full year
– If it has been over a year since implantation, a word recognition score of 60% or less on a Hearing in Noise Test.
It is difficult to be awarded disability benefits, even for those who have a severe hearing loss. However, you can still be approved with a medical-vocational allowance. To be awarded benefits in this way, the SSA will take into consideration your age, education level, work history, and residual functional capacity (RFC) to determine if you can do the work you did in the past or any other job.
Another common way to be awarded benefits is to also have another condition in conjunction with your hearing loss. So, if you have any other type of impairment that affects your ability to work, it is vitally important that you provide that information to the SSA as well.
Applying for SSI Benefits
If you have a hearing loss that qualifies you for SSI benefits, you will have to have an interview with a representative from the SSA. You can complete this step in person at your local Social Security office or via a phone call to 1-800-772-1213. This phone number is TTY/TDD compatible.
Applying for SSDI Benefits
If you qualify for SSDI benefits, you can apply either over the phone, in person at the SSA office or online.
Specific Records you Will Need to ProvideWhichever benefits you apply for, you will have to provide the following documentation with your application:
– Calcoric or other vestibular tests
– Audiometry results
– HINT or HINT-C word recognition measures
– Bone and/or air conduction test results.
Non-Medical Documentation you Will Need to Provide
Other documentation you will need to provide to make your application complete includes:
– Work history
– Current employment information
– Finance details
– Contact information for medical providers.