Workers with a disability may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits that help pay for daily financial needs such as medical bills, housing and food. Inability to work because of hearing loss may be a qualifying disability if an applicant meets strict eligibility requirements.
Hearing loss, alone, does not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration evaluates hearing loss according to eligibility requirements contained in its blue book.
SSA usually takes three to five months to decide an application for disability benefits. An applicant will have to first undergo a hearing test by a qualified professional to determine whether blue book requirements are met.
The blue book addresses hearing loss that is not being treated by cochlear implants. To meet this standard, the applicant must have an average air conduction hearing threshold of at least 90 decibels and an average bone conduction of at least 60 dB in their better ear. They must also have a word recognition score no better than 40 percent in their better ear in a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllable words.
The blue book also governs workers who underwent cochlear implant surgery. Cochlear impanation is a disability for one year after the procedure. After one year, an applicant may be eligible for benefits if they have a word recognition score that does not exceed 60 percent in a hearing in noise test.
Benefits may be denied if an applicant suffers hearing loss, even total loss, in one ear. The SSA evaluates hearing loss in the applicant’s best year.
Benefits may be denied if the applicant performs work that does not require good hearing or if their employer is able to modify their work to accommodate any hearing loss.
An attorney can help applicants obtain evidence and present their strongest case for these benefits. Experienced lawyers may help appeal benefit denials and assure that ongoing benefits continue.