Yes, hearing loss can be considered a disability. It is the partial or total inability to hear sounds in one or both ears. The impact of hearing loss on an individual’s daily life can vary depending on the severity and type of hearing loss. It can significantly affect communication, social interactions, and the ability to perform certain tasks. 

To determine eligibility for hearing impairment, an applicant can apply for SSDI and SSI benefits provided by the Social Security Administration. The SSA evaluates for social security disability for hearing loss based on specific criteria outlined in their Listing of Impairments. Meeting the eligibility criteria in the Listing of Impairments and submitting the medical evidence can help prove your disability. 

There is a standard of proof that determines that your disabling condition is the reason for reducing your ability to perform work. This is known as a medical-vocational allowance, which determines the severity of your condition. It may depend on several factors, such as age, education, and experience. In such circumstances, a claimant may be awarded disability benefits. The mild to moderate hearing impairment will not qualify the claimant for disability benefits.  

Can you get disability benefits for hearing loss?

Yes, it is possible to pursue hearing loss disability benefits, depending on the severity and impact of the condition on your ability to work.

To qualify for hearing disability benefits, you will typically need to provide medical evidence and documentation that demonstrates the extent of your hearing loss for at least 12 months and its impact on your ability to perform a substantial gainful activity. This may include audiograms, medical records, and assessments from healthcare professionals.

However, if your hearing loss does not meet the specific criteria, you may still be eligible for benefits through a Residual Functional Capacity assessment, which considers the functional limitations caused by your hearing loss and how it affects your ability to work.

What is hearing loss impairment?

Hearing loss impairment refers to the condition in which an individual experiences a partial or complete loss of hearing ability. It is characterized by a reduced sensitivity to sounds or the inability to hear certain frequencies or volumes. 

Hearing loss can occur due to various factors, including age, exposure to loud noise, genetics, certain medical conditions, and ear infections, among others. Hearing loss impairment may require the use of assistive devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants to enhance hearing abilities.

Hearing loss can make it challenging to understand speech, participate in conversations, and engage in activities that rely on auditory cues. In some cases, it may also lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, anxiety, and depression

How much hearing loss is considered disabled?

Hearing loss greater than 35 decibels in the better-hearing ear is considered disabled. The determination of disability due to hearing loss is typically based on various factors, including the severity of the hearing loss, the impact it has on an individual’s ability to communicate and function in daily life, and the specific criteria set by the SSA.

What are the symptoms of hearing loss?

The symptoms of hearing loss can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some of them include:

  • Difficulty in understanding speech: You may have difficulty understanding conversations, especially in noisy environments or when multiple people are speaking.
  • Muffled or distorted sounds: Sounds may seem muffled, unclear, or distorted, making it challenging to distinguish between different sounds or words.
  • Trouble following conversations: You may find it hard to follow conversations, particularly when they involve multiple participants or occur in fast-paced situations.
  • Withdrawal from social situations: Hearing loss can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, and fatigue during social interactions, causing some individuals to withdraw from social activities.
  • Tinnitus: Some people with hearing loss experience tinnitus, which is a ringing, buzzing, or hissing sound in the ears.

What Hearing Tests Does the SSA Require?

The Social Security Administration requires audiometric testing for hearing loss claims as part of the evaluation process. The specific hearing tests the SSA may request include:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: This test measures your ability to hear different pitches (frequencies) and volumes (intensities) of sound. You will wear headphones and respond when you hear a tone, indicating the softest sound you can hear at each frequency.
  • Speech audiometry: This test assesses your ability to understand and repeat words at various volume levels. You will listen to recorded speech through headphones and repeat the words you hear.
  • Tympanometry: This test examines the movement of your eardrum in response to changes in air pressure. It helps assess the health and function of your middle ear.

These tests help determine the severity and extent of your hearing loss, which is vital for the SSA to evaluate your eligibility for disability benefits. 

What if I meet the eligibility criteria of SSA?

The next step after meeting the eligibility criteria is to apply for hearing disability benefits. You need to follow these general steps:

  • Collect medical documentation: Collect relevant medical records, including audiograms, diagnostic tests, and evaluations from healthcare professionals that confirm the severity and impact of your hearing loss.
  • Complete the application: Fill out the necessary disability application forms, providing accurate and detailed information about your medical condition, work history, and daily functional limitations related to hearing loss. 
  • Follow up and cooperate: Stay in touch with the disability program and SSA who are handling your application. Respond promptly to any requests for additional information or medical examinations to ensure the smooth processing of your claim.

Was the disability claim denied? Contact a disability lawyer

It can be helpful to consult with a disability lawyer experienced in disability claims. They can guide you through the application process, ensure all necessary documentation is included, and represent your interests if your claim is denied and you need to appeal.