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When Is Hearing Loss Considered A Disability

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Stem Cell Transplant And Gene Therapy

Why hearing loss is considered a disability

A 2005 study achieved successful regrowth of cochlea cells in guinea pigs. However, the regrowth of cochlear hair cells does not imply the restoration of hearing sensitivity, as the sensory cells may or may not make connections with neurons that carry the signals from hair cells to the brain. A 2008 study has shown that gene therapy targeting Atoh1 can cause hair cell growth and attract neuronal processes in embryonic mice. Some hope that a similar treatment will one day ameliorate hearing loss in humans.

Recent research, reported in 2012 achieved growth of cochlear nerve cells resulting in hearing improvements in gerbils, using stem cells. Also reported in 2013 was regrowth of hair cells in deaf adult mice using a drug intervention resulting in hearing improvement. The Hearing Health Foundation in the US has embarked on a project called the Hearing Restoration Project. Also Action on Hearing Loss in the UK is also aiming to restore hearing.

Researchers reported in 2015 that genetically deaf mice which were treated with TMC1 gene therapy recovered some of their hearing. In 2017, additional studies were performed to treat Usher syndrome and here, a recombinant adeno-associated virus seemed to outperform the older vectors.

What Type Of Disability Is Hearing Impairment

Different organizations classify disability differently. For example, the World Health Organization breaks down the definition of disability into three categories:

  • Impairment: This involves the physical structure of the body.
  • Activity Limitation: Any typical activity that is limited. Difficulty hearing falls under this category.
  • Participation Restriction: This is the idea that either you or society curtails your involvement in certain activities or behaviors.

Hearing impairment tends to fall rather squarely into all three of those criteria.

Other organizations break it down by the level of your hearing loss. The exact classification of disability that would attach to your hearing impairment will be determined by your precise diagnosis. Generally speaking, hearing impairment is broken down into four categories: mild, moderate, severe, and profound .

Hearing Loss With Cochlear Implants

When a person receives a cochlear implant, they will be considered disabled for one year after the procedure was performed. After that period, a person may still be considered disabled based on word recognition testing. A hearing in noise test will be performed to determine whether the person can recognize sentences that are presented at 60 decibels. If the person scores 60 percent or less on a word recognition test, their hearing loss will be recognized as a disability.

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Qualifying With A Cochlear Implant

If youve had cochlear implant surgery, youll automatically qualify to receive benefits for at least 12 months following the procedure. After 12 months have passed, you can continue receiving disability benefits if you have a word recognition score of 60 percent or less, determined by using the Hearing in Noise Test .You may not know what your hearing threshold is or your HINT score without first speaking with your audiologist. Fortunately, the entire Blue Book is available online. You can review the listings for hearing loss and determine if you will medically qualify at your next doctors appointment.

Compensation For Hearing Injuries

Hearing Loss Severity and Social Security

If your hearing loss is a result of being exposed to noise in your job or an accident at work, you may be entitled to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. Whether you decide to claim this benefit, you may also be eligible for compensation through the civil courts for your work-induced hearing loss. However, you must claim within three years of when your industrial accident happened or when your occupational deafness started.

If your hearing loss or deafness was caused by armed forces service, then you can be eligible for compensation from the;Armed Forces Compensation Scheme;. This can be a monthly payment or one lump sum.

Hearing loss is a serious problem that can have a considerable impact on your mental and physical health, personal relationships, career and earning potential. While there is free treatment available, there is also a range of benefits that you may qualify that are designed to help alleviate some of the stress and financial pressure that can accompany hearing loss.

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Prevalence And Demographics Of Hearing Impairment

Prevalence of hearing loss in the United States is estimated from a number of different sources, which collect their data using varying procedures. The National Health Interview Survey , which publishes the prevalence of chronic health conditions reported by adults, estimates that 17 percent of adults in the United States, or 34 million people, indicate some hearing difficulty. The prevalence of men experiencing hearing difficulty is greater than the prevalence of women experiencing hearing difficulty, with 20.8 percent of adult men having hearing trouble compared to 14.1 percent of adult women having hearing trouble. In addition, the prevalence of reported hearing loss increases

Suggested Citation:Hearing Loss: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

with age: 8.4 percent of the population ages 18-44, 20.6 percent of the population ages 45-64, 34.1 percent of the population ages 65-74, and 50.4 percent of the population age 75 and older report some problems with hearing. These estimates include persons with conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and are not verified directly with audiometric examination.

Suggested Citation:Hearing Loss: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

and nearly 10,000 children have them . Among children receiving special educational services for hearing loss, 6.2 percent use a cochlear implant and 62.9 percent use a hearing aid for instructional purposes .

Hearing Impairment As A Disability

Different organizations have different classifications for disability. For example, according to the World Health Organization, any disability definition can be broken down into three categories:

  • Impairment: This looks at the physical appearance of the body.
  • Activity limitation: This deals with limited physical movements or hindered due to the impairment. Hearing difficulties fall under this category.
  • Restriction in participation: This involves the notion that society has reduced your involvement in certain situations because of your impairment.;

However, hearing impairment falls into all the three categories mentioned to some degree. Some organizations define disability by breaking down the severity of the loss. Thus, the exact disability classification that a persons hearing impairment will fall under depends on the impairments precise diagnosis. Therefore, hearing impairment may fall under four categories profound, severe, moderate and mild.

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Hearing Loss & Hearing Impairment On The Job

Legally, all employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with hearing loss, as stipulated in the Americans with Disabilities Act . Proactive employers will provide assistive technology to help employees with hearing loss perform their daily responsibilities. For example, employees who answer phones may be provided with a handset amplification system, videophone, or captioned phone that provides a text display of the callers dialogue.

Employees who work with intercoms or paging systems may benefit from software that can turn intercom messages into texts or other video messages. Furthermore, an FM loop system can be utilized to broadcast audio messages directly to an individuals hearing aid without background noise.

Employers searching for ways to accommodate employees with hearing loss can consult the Job Accommodation Network , as well as the;Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion;. Workplace accommodations are often inexpensive, with most costing less than $500. However, your employer is not responsible for providing assistive devices or equipment for personal use, which includes hearing aids.

If you believe youre experiencing hearing loss and its affecting your performance at work, please contact a hearing professional in your area immediately. These experts will determine your level of hearing loss and whether you would benefit from wearing hearing aids.

Hearing Loss Affecting Your Functional Capacity

Can You Win Social Security Disability if You have Hearing Loss

If you don’t qualify under one of the above official SSA impairment listings for hearing loss, as the next part of the disability determination process, the SSA is required to consider the effect of your hearing loss on your capacity to do daily activities and work, and will then determine whether there is any kind of work you could do.

If your hearing loss is significant , you may have difficulty talking to other people and following direction, which is a significant work-related impairment, yet you wouldn’t meet the SSA’s listing for hearing loss.

To decide if your hearing impairment rises to the level of a disability that prevents you from working, the SSA will give you a rating of the type of work it thinks you can do . This is called your residual functional capacity . The lower your RFC, the fewer types of jobs you can do. If your pure tone average is worse than 40 dB in your better ear, the SSA is likely to give you some type of RFC.

The SSA may also include specific restrictions on the type of job you can do in your RFC. For hearing loss, the key question for your RFC is whether you can do work that requires good hearing and good word recognition. If you have moderate to marked hearing loss, and/or poor word recognition, you probably can’t.

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Types Of Hearing Loss

Before we describe the types of hearing loss a person may have, its useful to know that sound is measured by:

  • its loudness or intensity ; and
  • its frequency or pitch .

Hearing loss is generally described as slight, mild, moderate, severe, or profound, depending upon how well a person can hear the intensities or frequencies most strongly associated with speech. Impairments in hearing can occur in either or both areas, and may exist in only one ear or in both ears. Generally, only children whose hearing loss is greater than 90 decibels are considered deaf.

There are four types of hearing loss, as follows :

Conductive hearing losses are caused by diseases or obstructions in the outer or middle ear . Conductive hearing losses usually affect all frequencies of hearing evenly and do not result in severe losses. A person with a conductive hearing loss usually is able to use a hearing aid well or can be helped medically or surgically.

Sensorineural hearing losses result from damage to the delicate sensory hair cells of the inner ear or the nerves that supply it. These hearing losses can range from mild to profound. They often affect the persons ability to hear certain frequencies more than others. Thus, even with amplification to increase the sound level, a person with a sensorineural hearing loss may perceive distorted sounds, sometimes making the successful use of a hearing aid impossible.

Qualifying Without A Cochlear Implant

If you havent received a cochlear implant, you have two ways of qualifying. The first is if you have 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.You can also qualify if you have a word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear, which will be determined by using a standardized list of phonetically balanced, single-syllable words.

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Social Security Disability Benefits For Hearing Loss

If you have suffered from hearing loss and it is impacting your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. In order to even be considered eligible for benefits, you must have worked long enough to have paid enough credits in to Social Security Disability Insurance and you must have paid enough taxes in to the Social Security Administration .

SSDI benefits are eligible for profound hearing loss of deafness, but not for hearing loss that is considered mild or moderate. The SSA details how significant your hearing loss must be in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. You may qualify for SSDI benefits because of severe hearing loss even if your hearing loss may correctable with a cochlear implant even if you decide to not undergo surgery.

According to the National Institute of Center for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Institutes of Health , there are more than 37 million American adults experiencing some kind of hearing loss. Approximately one-fourth of the adults older than 65 experience disabling hearing loss. The numbers are lower with younger groups, and some 60,000 U.S. adults have undergone cochlear implantation.

While cochlear implantation may make an impact on your hearing loss, it is an expensive venture and not all insurance policies cover the procedure. Some individuals may opt out of getting the procedure for various reasons, including the expense.

Medically Qualifying For Benefits For Hearing Loss

Getting VA Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss
  • Hearing Loss which requires:
  • An average hearing threshold of 60 to 90 decibels or greater in the better ear, dependent upon the testing method
  • A word recognition score of 40 percent or lower in the better ear
  • Hearing Loss with a Cochlear Implant which automatically qualifies medically for disability benefits for at least one year after surgery.
  • If your hearing loss is not severe enough to meet the hearing loss listing, you may be able to qualify for benefits by meeting or closely matching the Disturbance of labyrinthine-vestibular function listing instead. For this listing, your medical records must show you experience ongoing issues with balance and tinnitus along with a progressive decline in hearing ability.

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    How Do We Categorize Hearing Loss

    There are a number of terms and labels you can use to describe your hearing loss. This gives the individual a healthy amount of leeway when it comes to defining his or her own experience and identity.

    There are several widely recognized frameworks you can use to help categorize your own hearing loss:

    • Medical categories focus on the biological function of your ears and the physical thresholds of your hearing. Medical categories exist primarily for diagnostic purposes to provide individuals with better treatment options.
    • Legal categories tend to focus on how the law intersects with those who have hearing loss. Legal categories can be attached to certain protections and rights under the law.

    In addition to these categories, words also often have connotations that change how people feel. Some people still worry about a perceived stigma associated with hearing loss and try to avoid terms like deafness. For these people, phrases like hard of hearing or thats my bad ear are more comfortable. Its a way of exerting some agency over your hearing condition and how others perceive it.

    Deaf Applicants Or Those With Profound Hearing Loss Should Be Able To Qualify For Disability Benefitseither By Meeting The Ssa’s Listing Or Through A Medical

    By Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney

    If you have profound hearing loss or deafness, you should be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration details how significant your hearing loss must be for it to qualify as a disability that prevents you from working, and thus makes you eligible for benefits.

    If your hearing loss does not meet the SSA’s published standard for profound hearing loss, you still might be able to get disability benefits based on a medical-vocational allowance, if you can show that your hearing loss reduces your capacity to work so much that there are no jobs you can do considering your age, education, and experience. However, the SSA does not usually accept that mild and moderate hearing loss affects your capacity to work since these conditions can usually be corrected using hearing aids. In addition, if you have good hearing in one ear, you won’t qualify for disability benefits.

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    How To Receive Va Disability Benefits For Hearing Loss

    In order to receive VA disability benefits for hearing loss, veterans must prove to VA that their hearing loss is the result of their time in service.; For direct service connection, they must establish the following three elements: a current diagnosis of hearing loss; an in-service event that may have caused or contributed to their hearing loss; and a medical opinion definitively linking the in-service event to their hearing loss.

    Would Wearing A Hearing Aid Be Deemed A Disability

    Hearing Loss and VA Disability Benefits

    So, we are back to our main question is wearing a hearing aid classed as a disability? We have already mentioned the different levels or thresholds that a person with a hearing impairment must meet for disability grants. The test to prove a persons disability level is performed without the person wearing a hearing aid. According to the Social Security Regulations and Americans with Disabilities Act, wearing a hearing aid would not put you in the category of being disabled.;

    In most cases, hearing aids are worn to improve low-level hearing impairments that fall well below the thresholds set by the Act and Regulations for hearing disabilities. The logic here is that wearing a hearing aid helps to provide some assistance for hearing loss or impairment, and this eliminates, to some degree, the state of disability. Therefore, to answer the proposed question, you cannot be classified as having a disability just because you wear a hearing aid.;

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    Ada Title Iv: Telecommunications Relay Services

    Title IV addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use TTYs , and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements

    One of the TRS services most used by people who have a hearing loss, but who do not use sign language is Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service . IP CTS allows access to the text version of the call, so that people who lose their hearing can continue to use the phone at all. Some have called these phones a life-saver.

    The Federal Communications Commission will be releasing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service in 2018. This means the FCC is writing rules that everyone will have an opportunity to weigh in on regarding captioned telephone service that relies on the internet. Whether you have a captioned phone on your kitchen table or at your desk at work, or an IP CTS captioning app on your smartphone, you have a stake in what the FCC will be saying about how you are able to receive and use this service.

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