Getting Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss

People who are deaf or hard of hearing may face challenges using the sense of hearing as a means of processing information or communicating. Under certain circumstances, an individual who has hearing loss may qualify for disability benefits under programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Americans with Disability Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disability Act requires that individuals meet a simple definition of disability before they may qualify for disability-related benefits. When a person experiences any type of disability, such as a physical or mental impairment, it can potentially limit their fundamental daily life activities. 

A person who has a physical or mental illness is regarded as having an impairment. Individuals who have a hearing disability may face difficulties in performing daily tasks and develop other types of limitations. 

However, not all individuals who are experiencing a degree of hearing loss will require accommodations that will allow them to perform their jobs. For some people, though, their hearing loss may necessitate accommodations that make it possible for them to do their work. Some of the hearing-related limitations that a person may experience can include:

  • Hard of hearing from birth
  • Noise sensitivity 
  • Progressive hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus

Is Hearing Loss a Disability?

Disability For Hearing Loss

Hearing loss has the potential to limit a person’s ability to work or even eliminate their working abilities entirely. In the event that your disability for hearing loss is quite extreme, your disability could prevent you from holding a full-time job, which could permit you to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. When an applicant submits paperwork to begin a disability claim, they will also have to submit objective medical proof to the SSA that can establish both the severity and existence of any qualifying medical impairment. 

Individuals who experience hearing loss will need to provide the SSA with hearing impairment or hearing loss records that demonstrate the tests administered by an otolaryngologist or an audiologist. This type of doctor is sometimes called an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor. 

If a person who has loss of hearing is unable to afford audiometric testing before their disability hearing, then the individual can request that their local Social Security Office carry out a consultative examination with an ENT or an audiologist. For this process, it is important that you contact a Disability Attorney in San Diego who can help you make all of the necessary arrangements and follow the correct procedures. 

The SSA considers a hearing impairment to be a disability, and there are two listings relating to hearing loss within the blue book. Listing 2.10 is reserved for individuals who do not have a cochlear implant. A person can meet the requirements of this listing if they satisfy one of the below-mentioned conditions:

  • The average air conduction of hearing threshold must be greater than 89 decibels, whereas the average bone conduction hearing threshold must be greater than 60 decibels.
  • The score on the speech discrimination test must be 40% or worse.

The factors listed above highlight the two different ways in which hearing can be measured. However, people who have a cochlear implant have separate criteria to meet. Additionally, there are many other people who experience a level of hearing loss or partial deafness who can qualify for disability benefits by getting a medical-vocational allowance.

Listing 2.11 is exclusively designated for people who have cochlear implants. Under this listing, a person can be considered disabled automatically for at least one year after implantation of the hearing device. However, after one year has elapsed, the individual must achieve a word recognition score of 60% or less on the hearing in noise test (HINT). A person who meets this criterion can meet the requirement for this disability listing.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability for Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a common phenomenon for veterans, and it is often accompanied by tinnitus or ringing in the ears. Many veterans also suffer from eyesight loss or loss of vision. In many cases, there may be a way to pursue service-connected disability compensation for the problems relating to a veteran’s ears and eyes.

Veterans who experience hearing issues may have conditions that fall under the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities mentioned in Section 4.87, within the 6200 to 6260 diagnostic codes. Some of the qualifying disabilities relating to the ears and hearing include:

  • Cancer, which is entitled to a 100% rating for at least six months, after which the termination of cancer treatment would follow
  • Peripheral vestibular disorder, a problem in the inner ear that can often lead to dizziness, which is entitled to a 10% rating for occasional dizziness or 30% for more severe symptoms
  • Hearing loss in one ear, which is entitled to a 30% rating
  • Hearing loss in both ears, which is entitled to a 50% rating
  • 0% rating for a perforated eardrum

If an individual’s application for disability benefits gets rejected, then they have the right to file an appeal. For this complicated legal stage, a lawyer would be able to support you throughout the disability appeal process. The presence of an attorney on your side can help to make the process easier and more convenient.

Hearing Loss Disability Tax Credit

In many cases, the federal government considers medical expenses to be eligible tax deductions. Because disorders relating to hearing loss can be considered a medical condition, and hearing aids are regarded as medical devices that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, an individual who spends money on these devices may be able to deduct these costs. 

People who are uninsured and incur significant dental and medical expenses, such as those relating to hearing impairments, can experience a financial crisis. Individuals who are in this situation may be able to take advantage of itemizing their medical and dental expenses as deductions. Some of the most common deductions that people seek for medical and dental expenses include:

  • Payments that were made to medical practitioners, dentists, surgeons, and doctors
  • Expenses for in-patient care or residential nursing home care
  • Payments that were made for any weight-loss programs for a particular disease, as prescribed by a physician
  • Expenses for hearing aids or other devices to assist with other disabilities
  • Payments that were made to satisfy an individual’s health insurance premiums

The amount that is to be deducted from the total amount must exceed 7.5% of a person’s net gross income. Some of the permitted deductions for hearing loss include payments made during diagnosis, medical treatment, and transportation costs linked with hearing loss (which may include fare for taxis, train tickets, ambulance rides), and out-of-pocket expenses. A person needs to keep track of all the expenses and keep a record of all the receipts otherwise itemizing can be applied.