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Did you lose your hearing due to occupational noise?

Does your job here in Florida expose you to high levels of noise on a consistent basis? If so, you may now find that you have lost all, or at least a significant amount, of your hearing. Losing your hearing can be frightening, and among other things, you may wonder how you will support yourself and your family if you can't work due to your hearing loss.

Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act should provide you with the opportunity to find gainful employment despite your disability, the fact remains that obtaining gainful employment may be close to impossible for you now. In addition, any job you do find may pay you less than your non-hearing impaired counterparts. You decide to pursue Social Security Disability benefits, but you are not even sure if your condition qualifies you to receive such benefits.

Eligibility is not guaranteed

First, the good news. Severe hearing loss is a qualified condition for SSD benefits. Now, the not so good news. Obtaining benefits for this particular condition requires significant documentation and medical testing. You aren't alone, however. You probably need to know that as high as 60 percent of all claims come back denied the first time. A reconsideration has only about a 20 percent chance of success. It's only when you finally go before an administrative law judge that you have a better chance.

That does not mean that you won't fall within the 40 percent of people whose claims the Social Security Administration approves with the initial application. For example, if you have another disabling condition along with your hearing loss, your chances could increase. If you have a cochlear implant, your application may receive automatic approval for 12 months. Thereafter, the SSA reassesses your need for benefits.

Without a cochlear implant

If you don't have a cochlear implant, you must meet either the audiometry criteria or the work recognition testing criteria. The SSA only allows an otolaryngologist, a licensed physician or an audiologist working under the supervision of one of them to conduct the testing required to meet these criteria. The SSA may also require you to undergo an independent evaluation by one of its medical professionals, which may include an Auditory Evoked Response Test.

The fact that you suffer from profound hearing loss or deafness may not be enough to prove you cannot find gainful employment. Fortunately, the SSA also looks at your skills, education level and work experience to determine whether you can find suitable employment with your hearing loss.

Enlist much needed support

Applying for SSD benefits is a complex process. You have enough on your plate without the stress and frustration that often accompanies the application process. It may increase your chances of receiving the benefits you need if you make use of the legal resources at your disposal.

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