Ohio Social Security Disability And SSI Legal Blog

Work-related hearing loss may lead to disability benefits

Exposure to loud noises in the workplace can lead to hearing loss. This phenomenon is particularly common in industrial settings, construction work and manufacturing. Prolonged exposure to noise, even if it’s not overbearingly loud, can still cause permanent damage.

Hearing loss that is severe can significantly impact a person’s ability to process information and communicate, which can be a safety concern in some job positions. Because of this, certain individuals may qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Qualifications for disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has specific criteria that must be met before a person will be approved for benefits. These are covered in the Blue Book under Listing 2.10 and 2.11. This outlines the criteria for benefits related to hearing loss with and without cochlear implants.

For hearing loss not treated with cochlear implants, the SSA requires:

  • An average air conduction hearing threshold of at least 90 decibels in the better ear, and
  • A bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or greater in the better ear

If the individual has cochlear implants, they may automatically qualify for disability benefits for one year following the implantation. After this period, eligibility will depend on the individual’s word recognition score and other auditory tests.

SSDI application requirements

A claim for SSDI must be accompanied by medical documentation that shows the hearing loss is present and the extent of the damage to the auditory system. This can include:

  • Audiograms
  • Medical records
  • Audiologist and otolaryngologist reports

The documentation should include information about how the hearing loss impacts the applicant’s life. While all effects are important, the primary focus should be on the way it affects their ability to perform their work duties. In addition to medical records, statements from employers, colleagues and vocational experts may also be beneficial.

The SSDI application process can be rather complex and may take considerable time. Because of this, applicants may need legal assistance to navigate through everything. In many cases, initial applications will be denied, so preparing for the appeals process is generally wise as well.