More people may have trouble hearing than you realize. About 15% of American adults have some difficulty hearing. Approximately 2 percent of adults age 45 to 55 have disabling hearing loss, but that rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults between ages 55 and 64. As you might expect, older adults are more likely to have severe problems with their hearing. Some people with debilitating hearing loss may be unable to work. If so, they may find themselves asking the Social Security Administration to evaluate their hearing loss as a disability.
The Basics of Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance
SSDI is offered to eligible people who cannot work. To qualify, an applicant must have a condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. Medical conditions and diseases each are assessed differently. For example, the proof of disability required for lung cancer may differ from the proof needed for hearing loss.
Basically, though, hearing trouble must limit an individual’s ability to work and be expected to last for at least 12 months to be considered a disability.
So, how does the SSA figure out that hearing loss actually is a disability?
The SSA List of Impairments
Several types of tests noted in the list of impairments are used to evaluate hearing loss as a disability:
- Otologic Examination. A licensed physician or audiologist checks the ears, both externally and internally. A medical history is taken, and you will describe how the hearing loss affects your daily life. This exam must show that there are no conditions that would affect the audiometric testing, like ear infections or obstructions.
- Audiometric Testing. Generally, a physician will test for air conduction and bone conduction of sound and word recognition testing. Doctors test each ear separately, and you cannot wear hearing aids during the test.
Some people with hearing loss use cochlear implants to hear better. Testing for people with implants varies from people who do not use them.
Claimants who test below certain levels may meet the SSA’s definition of disability. If so, the SSA may award SSDI benefits.
It’s Complicated, so Give Us a Call.
Before receiving benefits, you have to apply. The SSDI application process is complex, and the SSA rejects many first-time claims.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have helped many clients apply for SSDI, and appeal adverse decisions. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.