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Possible Changes Coming to SSD Hearing Loss Evaluations

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Sep 04, 2013 | 0 Comments

Possible Changes Coming to SSD Hearing Loss Evaluations

The Social Security Administration (SSA) must review and revise its Social Security Disability (SSD) regulations from time to time. In order to facilitate this review, the SSA will ask for comments from those receiving SSD, medical personnel who review applicants, and any others involved in the assessment process. On August 30, 2013, the SSA published a request in the Federal Register asking for input “on whether and how we should revise the criteria in our Listing of Impairments for evaluating hearing loss and disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function in adults and children.” Current Rules The current rules “require both a complete otologic examination and audiometric testing to establish a medically determinable impairment that causes a hearing loss.” The rules dictate that otologic examinations are to be performed by licensed physicians and audiometric testing are to be performed by an otolaryngologist. The rules further detail audiometric testing specifics depending on whether the individual does or does not have a cochlear implant. If an individual does not have a cochlear implant, the testing is done one ear at a time and the individual cannot wear their hearing aids. There is the air conduction and bone conduction hearing tests done together determine at which decibel rating an individual can hear at. This combination of tests require an individual to hear at 90 decibels or greater for the air conduction test and 60 decibels or greater for the bone conduction test to be considered disabled. An alternate test of recognizing a standard list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words requires a recognition score of 40 percent or less. For an individual with a cochlear implant, the SSA automatically considers them disabled up to one year after receiving the implant. After the one-year period, the individual is tested for word recognition using the Hearing in Noise Test. The individual must understand less than 60 percent of words in the Hearing in Noise Test to be considered disabled. For disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function, the description notes “these disturbances of balance are characterized by an hallucination of motion or loss of position sense and a sensation of dizziness which may be constant or may occur in paroxysmal attacks. Nausea, vomiting, ataxia, and incapacitation are frequently observed, particularly during the acute attack.” There are a number of different tests that are listed for evaluating labyrinthine-vestibular function. These include a neuro-otolaryngologic examination, pure tone and speech audiometry including a Bekesy audiometry, positional and caloric testing by electronystagmography, x-ray imaging, CAT scans, or MRIs, myelography, and radionuclear bone scans. These testing methods are not specifically defined, but it is assumed medical personnel in this area of practice will understand what each one is, how it is to be performed, and how to interpret the results. Requested Comments The SSA has requested answers to specific questions related to evaluations of hearing loss and labyrinthine-vestibular function prior to issuing proposed rules. The questions are: – Are the current rules regarding evaluation of hearing loss and labyrinthine-vestibular function written in highly technical language and jargon that it is difficult to comprehend? – Do the testing requirements for ontological examinations and audiometric testing state clear requirements? – Are there other testing methods that can be used for adults and children who have difficulty participating in behavioral testing? – Should sample audiograms be added to evaluations of hearing loss in adults and children? – When an individual has a cochlear implant, are there other word recognition tests that would make evaluation of hearing in noise clearer? – Should the SSA replace the phrase labyrinthine-vestibular function with inner ear function? – Should labyrinthine-vestibular function disturbances remain in the Sech category? Information from the Federal Register If you have extensive hearing loss or impaired inner ear balance function to the point where you are unable to work, contact our knowledgeable attorney to assist you in applying for Social Security Disability benefits. See Related Posts: Meniere's Disease and Social Security Disability Social Security Disability Single Decision Maker Program on the Chopping Block

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...


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