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Can You Get Disability for Hearing Loss?

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can provide essential financial support to individuals with hearing disabilities.

Hearing loss can turn basic everyday activities into obstacles, particularly in a professional setting. Individuals who are deaf or have progressive hearing loss often have trouble sustaining gainful employment. Hearing loss can affect communication and make applicants appear less favorable compared to other candidates without hearing disabilities.

At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, we recognize the significant impact hearing impairments can have on all areas of life. If you’re asking, “Can you get disability for hearing loss?” we invite you to reach out to our law firm. Our team of dedicated disability attorneys in Knoxville, TN, are here to offer unwavering support. Contact us online or call (865) 299-7080 for a free case evaluation.

Hearing Loss & Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to individuals who are unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to a medical condition. The SSA acknowledges that individuals with hearing impairments often have trouble securing employment. Therefore, some people with these impairments can qualify for benefits.

The SSA offers both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These two programs provide crucial financial assistance to those who can’t work because of disabilities like hearing loss.

SSDI is available to people who have made contributions to the Social Security System by working and paying payroll taxes. SSI is a program based on financial need. SSI benefits are for disabled, blind, or aged individuals with limited income and resources. To receive SSI, you must be ineligible for SSDI.

How Can I Get Disability for Hearing Loss?

If your hearing impairment significantly impacts your ability to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits. However, the SSA has strict hearing loss disability requirements. Claimants must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled and provide substantial evidence to support their claim.

Qualifying for Disability

To meet the SSA’s definition of disabled, all applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • You are unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity because of your disability.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months.
  • Your disability is a listed impairment in the SSA’s Blue Book.

If a claimant’s disability doesn’t meet the requirements of any Blue Book listing, they may still qualify for SSD if their disability equals a listing in severity.

If a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment shows that a claimant’s disability prevents them from working, they may qualify for SSD without meeting or equaling a listing.

Blue Book Criteria

To qualify for SSI or SSDI with hearing loss, applicants must provide non-medical and medical supporting evidence. This evidence should demonstrate the severity of their condition and meet Blue Book medical criteria. Applicants must also be able to illustrate how their condition affects their ability to work.

In the Blue Book, hearing loss is classified as a qualifying disability under section 2.00 for Special Senses and Speech. Hearing loss is defined as a condition that severely limits a person’s ability to recognize spoken words or understand communication. The condition must persist even with hearing aids or other assistive devices.

Listing 2.10 covers hearing loss not treated with cochlear implantation. Listing 2.11 covers hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation. Specific medical testing must be completed to validate a claim filed under either of these listings.

Typically, the SSA requires both an otologic examination and audiometric testing to confirm the presence of a medically identifiable condition responsible for hearing loss. Audiometric testing should be done within 2 months of the otologic exam.

Once the SSA has evidence of an existing medical condition, they can use additional audiometric testing to assess the extent of hearing loss without another otologic exam. They will consider the test scores along with any other important information related to the hearing loss. This includes information from sources outside the testing environment.

Hearing Loss Without Cochlear Implantation vs With a Cochlear Implant

The SSA generally requires the following audiometric tests when filing for disability without a cochlear implant:

  • Pure tone air conduction testing
  • Bone conduction testing
  • Speech reception threshold (SRT) testing
  • Word recognition testing

When filing under listing 2.10, claimants must also meet one of the following:

  • Have an average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or greater in the better ear AND an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or greater in the better ear


  • A word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear, determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced, one-syllable words, as described here.

When filing under listing 2.11, claimants automatically qualify for benefits for 1 year after their cochlear implant procedure. Following that time, individuals can still receive SSD if they have a word recognition score of 60 percent or less on a “Hearing in Noise Test” (HINT).

The SSA understands people with hearing impairments may also have other symptoms like vertigo or ringing in the ears. Having another medical condition alongside hearing loss can increase a claimant’s chances of receiving disability. For example, diabetes can worsen hearing loss in older adults. Meniere’s disease, a disorder that affects the inner ear, can also play a role in hearing impairment.

Is Hearing Loss in One Ear Considered a Disability?

An applicant can receive disability for hearing loss in one ear if they’re unable to work as a result. Many people wonder how much hearing loss is considered a disability. The answer will depend on an individual’s medical test results and impairment severity.

Why Hire a Lawyer to File With Hearing Loss for Social Security Disability

The SSA has a strict disability application process with complicated medical criteria and guidelines. Initial claims are frequently denied. This is often due to simple filing mistakes or lack of supporting evidence.

Having a qualified disability lawyer on your side can increase your chances of claim approval. At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, our attorneys have extensive knowledge of the SSA’s rules and processes. We are also familiar with the intricate legal and medical terminology associated with disability applications.

To discover how we can assist in evaluating your eligibility for SSD, reach out for a free case evaluation.

Contact Us

To apply for Social Security Disability benefits with hearing loss, it’s crucial to understand the claims process. At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, our team provides comprehensive guidance to help you get the benefits you need.

Our lawyers are well aware of the challenges faced by individuals with hearing impairments. We firmly believe everyone deserves to live with dignity. We strive to protect the rights of disabled individuals and help them gain access to necessary support.

If you’re unable to work due to hearing loss, contact us online or call (865) 299-7080 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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