When is hearing loss a disability?

| Dec 1, 2020 | Social Security Disability

Hearing loss comes from many reasons, including exposure to loud noises in the workplace. When you begin to lose your hearing, you’ll likely find that doing many things is more challenging than usual. This can make it difficult for some individuals to hold jobs and take care of normal tasks. These factors often lead to the person wondering if they qualify for disability or any similar program.

One thing that shocks some people is that minor hearing loss and the need to use a hearing aid don’t qualify as disabilities under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) rules or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In order to receive disability benefits, you must undergo a hearing test that shows that your hearing loss is considerable.

There are three points that the SSA uses to determine whether hearing loss meets the criteria for a disability. Your hearing test must show one of these three points:

  • You’re unable to repeat at least 40% of the words in the word recognition test.
  • Your average hearing threshold is below 60 decibels when determined by bone conduction.
  • Your average hearing threshold is below 90 decibels when determined by air conduction.

While it may seem that those would provide a definitive answer as to whether you’re disabled or not, they don’t. The SSA looks at your case as a whole to determine whether you meet the full requirements for benefits. Hearing loss is sometimes a difficult claim to make, so it’s usually best to work with someone who is familiar with the criteria and the SSA determination process if your claim is based on this factor.

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