Apply For Disability Benefits For Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss is the third most common health problem that Americans experience in the United States. The symptoms can be severe enough to prevent an individual from participating in activities of daily living and engaging in full employment. In these cases, individuals with hearing loss may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

About Hearing Loss As A Disability

Hearing loss is the total or significant loss of the ability to hear sound. There are several causes of hearing loss such as age, genetics, noise exposure and illness. When an individual beginnings to lose his or her hearing, their quality of life may become affected. He or she will no longer be able to engage in conversations the same and may start to seclude themselves from typical social engagements. The individual will also lose their ability to listen to music and hear basic everyday noises such as doorbells and alarms.

Symptoms of Hearing Loss

The symptoms of hearing loss vary depending on what caused the hearing loss. Symptoms include:

  • Muffled sounds and noises
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Pain within the ears
  • Ear pressure
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Speech delay (in children)

For many people, hearing loss occurs slowly over time and can be difficult to notice. The person’s family and friends might notice the hearing problems before he or she themselves notice. It is best to go to a doctor or medical professional to get a hearing test done if the individual or their family believes he or she might have some sort of hearing loss. There potentially could be treatments available to help the hearing loss depending on the type of hearing loss.

Types of Hearing Loss

There are three basic types of hearing loss and the section of the auditory system that is affected or damaged differentiates them.

Conductive Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by problems with the ear canal, eardrum, or middle ear that prevents sound from properly being conducted.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Hearing loss caused by damaged sensory cells in the cochlea or damaged nerve pathways in the inner ear. Typically is permanent.

Mixed hearing loss: Hearing loss is caused by a combination of conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Hearing Loss

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a guide known as the Blue Book (Disability Evaluation Under Social Security) that lists the requirements necessary for major disabilities such as hearing loss to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Sections 2.10 and 2.11 of Chapter 2 Special Senses and Speech deals with hearing loss and what is needed to satisfy the requirements.

2.10: Hearing loss not treated with cochlear implantation

Requirement A: An average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or greater in the better ear as well as an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or greater in the better ear.


Requirement B: A word recognition score of 40% or less in the better ear determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words.

2.11: Hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation

Requirement A: Individual has had cochlear implants in one or both ears for one year after implantation.


Requirement B: After one year of implantation, a word recognition score of 60% or less determined using the HINT.

Residual Functional Capacity

If an applicant’s hearing loss doesn’t meet the requirements listed in Chapter 2 of the Blue Book, he or she may still qualify based on medical-vocational allowance. This means an applicant’s impairment is severe enough to prevent them from engaging in unskilled work, which is any work that requires little to no education or training to perform. Hearing loss can create problems in multiple work environments. For example, most jobs require verbal communication between co-workers and supervisors and many laborious jobs in noise heavy areas may pose a risk to an individual’s health if they are unable to hear.

The best way to prove an individual’s hearing loss is severe enough to prevent them from performing unskilled work is to have his or her treating doctor fill out a physical residual functional capacity (RFC) form before submitting an initial application. An RFC describes what an applicant is capable of despite his or her disabling condition. If the treating doctor finds that the individual is unable to engage in unskilled work, the applicant will have a much greater chance for approval.


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