Having a health problem that prevents you from doing your job, meeting your financial obligations, and caring for your family is stressful, to say the least. If your hearing loss affects your ability to work, you may be eligible for assistance through the Social Security Trust Fund.
Hearing loss does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits, but if it meets certain criteria and you are no longer able to work, seek help from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to help pay. medical bills, housing, credit card bills, food, and other expenses of daily living can all contribute to greater peace of mind.
Eligibility for the Blue Book
The SSA uses its own medical guide, known as the Blue Book, to determine whether or not an applicant will be eligible for disability benefits. To be approved with hearing loss, your hearing ability must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Blue Book. Information on hearing loss eligibility can be found in sections 2.10 and 2.11 of the Blue Book.
A hearing test performed by a qualified hearing care professional will include the necessary items assessed by the Social Security office to determine your eligibility. The first step is therefore to make an appointment at a local hearing clinic.
Section 2.10 of the Blue Book deals with hearing loss not treated with cochlear implants. To be approved under this list, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- An average hearing air conduction threshold of 90 decibels (dB) or more in the better ear and an average hearing bone conduction threshold of 60 dB or more in the better ear, OR
- A word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words
Section 2.11 of the Blue Book is intended for people who have had cochlear implant surgery. Cochlear implantation is considered a disability for one year after surgery. After the year has passed, you can still claim disability benefits if you have a word recognition score of 60% or less using the hearing in noise (HINT) test.
The entire Blue Book is available online, so you can review your hearing loss thresholds and word recognition scores with your hearing care professional and doctor to determine if you qualify.
Other considerations for hearing loss eligibility
There are a few other things to keep in mind before applying. If you meet the above eligibility criteria but still earn more than $ 1,190 per month, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. For example, if your employer is able to modify your job to accommodate your hearing loss, or if you have always worked in a job that did not require good hearing, you will not be eligible to receive benefits.
You will also not be approved if you only have hearing loss in one ear, even if the other ear is completely deaf, as any hearing loss is assessed using your better ear by the SSA.
Start the process
The easiest place to apply is online at the SSA website. You can even save your request to be completed at a later date if you partially complete the form. If you prefer, you can also make an appointment to apply in person at your nearest SSA office. You can call the SSA at 1-800-325-0788 TTY to make an appointment and apply in person.
For as long as you have worked, you and your employers have contributed to the Social Security trust fund through deductions from every paycheck. While most people think of Social Security only in relation to retirement, another important objective of the fund is to provide a “safety net” for those who cannot work due to a disability. If you believe you are eligible to receive this aid due to hearing loss or other disability, start the process today as it may take three to five months for the SSA to respond to your request.
If you are not sure whether your hearing loss qualifies you for benefits, or if you just want to treat a hearing loss that has been accompanying you for some time, the best place to start is your local hearing clinic. Make an appointment with a hearing care professional today!