As people age, their hearing often deteriorates. This problem is exacerbated by the many loud noises that people experience at work and in their daily lives, especially in a large city such as Houston. If hearing loss becomes severe, it can interfere with a person’s ability to perform the duties of a job or fulfill social functions. The Social Security Administration has set guidelines for awarding disability benefits to those who have lost a significant portion of their hearing capacity.
An applicant for Social Security disability benefits based on hearing loss must first show that the hearing deficit has lasted for or is expected to last for at least 12 months. The hearing loss must also be shown to prevent a person from performing job duties in their current occupation or in any other occupation.
The Social Security Administration requires an applicant for disability due to hearing loss to undergo two tests. The first is an otoscopic examination, that is, a visual examination of the outer and inner ear conducted by a qualified physician, to ensure that the applicant does not have any bone or other deformity that would interfere with an audiometric test. The applicant must then take an audiometric test supervised by a licensed audiologist or otolaryngologist. An audiometric test measures the extent of the hearing loss at various frequencies. The results of the otoscopic exam and the audiometric test must be submitted to the SSA along with the rest of the disability application. The applicant must also undergo a word-recognition test.
The SSA has established special standards for testing of persons who have been fitted with cochlear implants. A person will be considered disabled for one year after the implantation. After one year, the applicant must take a word recognition test to determine the extent of the impairment.