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Hearing loss and Social Security disability

Injuries, illnesses, and mental conditions can vary widely in scope and severity. Some of these medical conditions are relatively common, while others may be rarer. Regardless, the Social Security Administration has worked diligently in an attempt to recognize medical issues that can leave an individual disabled and therefore unable to work and earn a living. Those who are able to show that they meet the federal requirements for disability under a listed condition can receive monthly payments to help them pay for medical care and living expenses.

Establishing that one qualifies as disabled can be tricky, though. The regulations are very specific, and failing to prove disability in compliance with those regulations could lead to a denial and result in financial hardship. For example, those who suffer hearing loss very well may qualify for SSD benefits. However, in order to qualify, an individual must fall into one of two categories: those with cochlear implant and those without.

Those who have a cochlear implant can show that they are disabled in one of two ways. First, an individual is automatically considered disabled for the first year after implantation. After that first year, an individual must show that he or she has a word recognition score that, utilizing the HINT, is 60 percent or less.

Those who have hearing loss that is not treated by cochlear implants also have two routes to establishing disability. First, disability can be established if the sufferer's better ear has a hearing threshold of at least 90 decibels and a bon conduction hearing threshold of at least 60 decibels. Second, disability can be shown by providing documentation showing a word recognition score that is 40 percent or lower in the sufferer's better ear.

As can be seen by this example, the disability claims process can be very meticulous and challenging. Obtaining legal assistance may therefore be wise before starting on such an endeavor.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Special Senses and Speech - Adult," accessed on Feb. 29, 2016

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