Social Security Disability and Hearing Loss
Do you have hearing loss? If so, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers hearing loss a nonexertional impairment, or in other words, an impairment that doesn't affect your ability to perform strength-related tasks, such as sitting, standing, walking, carrying, pushing, pulling, or lifting. Hearing loss affects your ability to work because it interferes with your capacity to understand or process information. To be considered disabled by the SSA, you must have a hearing impairment that is severe enough to meet or equal the Blue Book's listing. Alternatively, you could argue that your hearing loss, combined with other impairments, reduces your capacity to perform basic work and hold down a job. Such an argument would have the best chance of succeeding if you could identify specific limitations caused by your other impairments. Examples include the need to take frequent, unscheduled breaks; the inability to follow simple instructions; and the likelihood of suffering from an emotional breakdown at work. Meeting the Listing If you think that your hearing impairment meets the SSA's listing, take a copy of the listing to your doctor and ask that the test numbers described in the listing be referenced in his medical statement. The SSA's hearing loss listing is as follows: “2.08 Hearing Impairments (hearing not restorable by a hearing aid) manifested by: A. Average hearing threshold sensitivity for air conduction of 90 decibels or greater, and for bone conduction to corresponding maximal levels, in the better ear, determined by the simple average of hearing threshold levels at 500, 1000, and 2000hz. (see 2.00B1); or B. Speech discrimination scores of 40 percent or less in the better ear.” In order to meet the SSA's hearing impairment listing, you must have hearing loss that is not restorable by a hearing aid. Evaluation of a hearing impairment is based on the residual functional capacity of the better ear. That means you won't be eligible for disability benefits if your hearing in one ear meets the listing but your hearing in the other ear is better. How the SSA Evaluates Hearing Impairments Generally, the SSA will require you to undergo a complete otologic examination and audiometric testing to establish that you have a medically determinable impairment that causes your hearing loss. The complete otologic examination must be performed by a licensed physician and include your medical history, your description of how your hearing loss affects you, and your physician's assessment of your tympanic membranes, middle ear abnormalities, and external ear appearance. Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss? Maximize the chances that you'll win the benefits you deserve by hiring a Social Security disability lawyer to assist you. To set up a free consultation with Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk, please call 800.883.7043 (or 404.250.7000) or fill out our online contact form.