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Is Unilateral Hearing Loss Considered A Disability

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Is Hearing Loss Considered A Disability

Unilateral Hearing Loss

In the most important ways that matter, hearing impairment is generally considered to be a disability, depending on how severe the hearing loss is. Thats especially important as it relates to Social Security regulations and the Americans With Disabilities Act . Under the ADA, for example, you are granted certain protections that relate to hearing impairment disabilities. Under Social Security rules, you may be entitled to disability benefits.

Official Ssa Listing For Hearing Loss

The SSA’s “blue book” of impairment listings states the requirements for automatically being granted disability benefits for hearing loss. There are different requirements for those with cochlear implants and those without.

Hearing Loss Without Cochlear Implants

To “meet” the SSA’s listing for hearing loss without cochlear implants that is, to automatically qualify for disability benefits under the listingyou must meet either one of two tests.

Pure tone and bone conduction audiometry. Your average hearing threshold sensitivity for air conduction must be 90 decibels or worse in your better ear, and you must have a bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or worse in your better ear. This represents profound hearing loss. Your hearing loss needs to be calculated by averaging your hearing at the sound frequencies of 500 hertz , 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz.

Word recognition test. You must not be able to repeat more than 40% of a list of standardized words spoken in a word recognition test .

Hearing Loss with Cochlear Implantation

This SSA listing applies if you have cochlear implants in one or both ears. For one year after the surgery for implantation of cochlear implants, you are automatically granted disability benefits . After one year post-surgery, if your word recognition score on a “Hearing in Noise Test” is 60% or less, your disability benefits will be extended until your word recognition score improves .

When to Request an Interpreter

How Much Hearing Loss Is Considered Disabled

Hearing loss is considered disabled when you qualify some rule which is important to identify, there are certain criteria and you are no longer able to work, applying for assistance. The SSA will compare your condition with the listing conditions of SSAs Blue Book. The Blue Book contains all of the conditions that could qualify an individual for disability benefits. Along with the criteria that must be matched in order to qualify for each Blue Book listing.

In order to qualify for disability benefits due to hearing loss, you must be able to prove that you meet the criteria established in either Section 2.10 or 2.11 of the Blue Book. If one of the rules suits you than you are having hearing loss.

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Section 2.10 of the Blue Book addresses hearing loss that is not treated with cochlear implantation. In order to qualify for disability benefits you must be able to prove that:

  • Your average air conduction hearing threshold is 90 decibels or greater in the better ear and your average bone conduction threshold is 60 decibels or greater in the better ear or
  • Your word understanding score is 40* or less for better ear using a standardized list of monosyllabic words.

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Contact Our Collin County Ssd Attorneys For Hearing Impairment

If you have experienced hearing impairments that have affected your ability to work, the Law Offices of Coats & Todd can help you apply for disability benefits through Social Security. We can also work with you to appeal the denial of a disability claim. Contact our Dallas County Social Security disability lawyers by calling 972-671-9922 to set up your free consultation.

Outcomes For Hearing Loss Across Age Decades

Take This Test to Discover if You Have Hidden Hearing Loss

Analyses of hearing loss at age decades for 5,713 of the 9,961 individuals with ID of this study show the significant amounts of hearing loss starting in early age decades. The results of Figures 1 and 2 illustrate the trend for increased prevalence of hearing loss with each advancing age decade. Especially notable is the prevalence of hearing loss for the three decades from 20 through 49 years, ranging from 16.8% to 36.1%. A comparison with general non-ID population data for these age decades is presented in Table 4 and reveals remarkable differences. People with ID show losses 3 to 9 times greater depending upon age decade. These data are in concert with the findings of the previously cited study by Meuwese-Jongejeugd et al. and strongly support the need for annual hearing evaluations for people with ID starting at age 18 and each year thereafter. Such a hearing care protocol is a way to identify the significant numbers of people with ID who experience early onset SNHL or C/M loss and who need immediate follow-up hearing care.

Figure 1. Hearing Loss by Age Decade: 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Shanghai, China

Figure 2. Hearing Loss by Age Decade: 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games, Athens, Greece

Table 4. A Comparison of Findings Displayed in Figures 1 & 2 With General Population Data
Age Decade

**Quaranta et al.

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Assessing The Child’s Domains Of Functioning

If your child’s hearing condition does not meet the guidelines set out in the Listing of Impairments, the SSA will move to the next step of assessing your child’s skills and behavior in six areas of functioning. These areas are learning, interacting with others, taking care of yourself, paying attention and finishing tasks, manipulating objects, and general health. To receive disability benefits, your child must show an extreme limitation in one area of functioning or “marked” limitations in two areas of functioning.

Can You Hear Me Now Unilateral Deafness Is Not An Ada Disability

Ive long argued that 2009s Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act changed the game for how employers defend disability discrimination cases. Because the ADAAA defines disability broadly, with the express goal of making it easy for employees to establish the existence of a protected disability, it is now exceedingly difficult for employers to win cases on summary judgment by arguing that an employee is not disabled.Here is the prediction and guidance I provided on this issue nearly two years ago:

Employers should give up hope that they will be able to prove that an employees medical condition does not qualify as a disability. Instead, employers should focus their ADA compliance efforts on the two issues that now matter in these cases: avoiding discrimination and providing reasonable accommodations.

Because every rule is defined by its exception, I bring you Mengel v. Reading Eagle Co. .

Christine Mengel worked as a copy editor and page designer for Reading Eagle. In 2007, she became deaf in one ear following successful surgery to remove a brain tumor. Eighteen months later, Reading Eagle terminated Mengels employment as part of reduction in force. She claimed that she was included in the reduction in force because of her disabilitydeafness in one ear.

The district court disagreed, concluding that Mengel could not proceed on her ADA claim because she was not disabled.

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What Percent Of Hearing Loss Qualifies For Disability

The question here is not if hearing loss has an impact on you or if hearing loss counts as a disability, but at what level does it become a disability? A lot of hearing loss is degenerative, which means that with the right kind of treatment for it, you can slow the speed or acceleration of it down. At what point, though, does it get classed as a disability? Really, it does depend which organization you are asking, as the answer can vary.

If you were looking into social security, in terms of disability benefits, then in order to be able to claim, you would need to have an average hearing rate below 90 dB, when the hearing rate is being measured by air conduction. On average, you should also be able to hear below 60 dB, when being measured with bone conduction. You would also qualify if you cant repeat 40% of words back, during a word recognition test. If you get to the point where you reach one of these thresholds, then you could qualify for things like disability benefits, with hearing loss being the cause.

How Ssd Impacts Your Life

Moving from consensus to protocol

I often forget I have what is considered to be a disability. It is only certain situations that remind me of it. In fact, I was blissfully unaware of what I was missing out on until quite recently, a few years ago, after reading several articles on the condition about certain abilities people with SSD are lacking:

As far as I am concerned, I have never felt that my SSD was disabling- despite that spiteful geography teacher- yes it can lead to awkward situations at times, but I am just grateful that I can hear. I can listen to music, I can hear my own and others voices, and sounds of all kinds. My hearing in my left ear is better than some peoples hearing in both! I can hear high pitched frequencies that many others cannot. I have some musical skills and can play by ear, although musical ability and tone deafness have nothing to do with hearing ability . I may not be able to hear in stereo, locate the direction and distance of sound, or fully understand a conversation among other conversations, but the rest of the time I can hear well and I am grateful for it.

A mono splitter I use for my headphones

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How To Deal With Ssd

One of the key things I have found to help cope with SSD is humour, and the ability to laugh and not take my mistakes too seriously. Sometimes my brain interprets things people say as the most ridiculous things- which says quite a bit about my imagination! Comic relief has helped to get through awkward situations while growing up. I notice people dont hold back as much when it comes to making fun of this kind of disability either- someone in a wheelchair might not be the butt end of quite so many jokes .

Another important lesson I have learnt is to be open and tell people as soon as possible about being deaf in one ear. I dont like to introduce myself in this waybecause I dont like to be identified as that half-deaf girl, plus I like to give people time to regard me as normal before thinking they have to shout or talk to me slowly like a halfwit. But as soon as I feel comfortable I will explain. Particularly if someone asks why I keep swapping sides if they walk on my right-hand side. The worst thing is for unsuspecting people to be rude or angry because they dont realize I have a hearing problem, and think I am just ignoring them, blanking them, or not paying attention. Explaining the issue resolves this .

Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits With Hearing Loss

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and the National Institutes of Health , more than 37 million adults in the U.S. report some hearing loss. The NIDCD and NIH report about a quarter of adults age 65 and older have disabling hearing loss. Numbers are lower among younger groups, reported at about 2% for middle-aged individuals and nearly 9% for people between the ages of 55 and 64. The risk of disabling hearing loss increases with age, but can occur at any time.

Loss of hearing may be correctable with a cochlear implant, dependent upon the cause of hearing loss. More than 58,000 adults have undergone cochlear implantation in the U.S., according to 2017 statistics published by the NIH. Whether your hearing loss is correctable or not, you may qualify for benefits, even if you decide not to undergo cochlear implantation surgery.

With severe hearing loss, you can potentially qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration . Qualification not only makes you eligible for monthly cash benefits but may additionally qualify you for other state and federal programs, including medical coverage through Medicare and/or Medicaid.

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Profound Unilateral Hearing Loss

A profound hearing loss in one ear means that you are unable to hear anything at all in one ear, while the other ear retains normal hearing. Its also sometimes referred to as single-sided deafness.

People with complete hearing loss in one ear will usually find it very difficult to hear conversations in busy environments, which can be frustrating and isolating.

Against The Federal Government

How unilateral hearing loss can affect your quality of ...

If you are a federal employee or job applicant and you believe that a federal agency has discriminated against you, you have a right to file a complaint. Each agency is required to post information about how to contact the agency’s EEO Office. You can contact an EEO Counselor by calling the office responsible for the agency’s EEO complaints program. Generally, you must contact the EEO Counselor within 45 days from the day the discrimination occurred. In most cases the EEO Counselor will give you the choice of participating either in EEO counseling or in an alternative dispute resolution program, such as a mediation program.

If you do not settle the dispute during counseling or though ADR, you can file a formal discrimination complaint against the agency with the agency’s EEO Office. You must file within 15 days from the day you receive notice from your EEO Counselor about how to file.

See 42 U.S.C. §12102 29 C.F.R. §1630.2.

For example, disability laws in California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees.

See “The Questions and Answers Series” under “Available Resources” on EEOC’s website at

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Hearing Loss And The Listing Of Impairments

When your child applies for SSI disability benefits, Social Security will first check its Listing of Impairments to assess whether your child’s level of hearing meets the requirements of the hearing listing or “medically equals” one of the listings. The SSA has created a special Listing of Impairments for children aged 18 and younger.

Listing 102.10 is for children who have hearing loss but are not using a cochlear implant. To satisfy this disability listing, children aged 5 and younger must have an air conduction hearing test with an average threshold of 50 decibels or higher in the best ear. Children aged 5 and older must have had one of the following:

  • an air conduction hearing test with an average threshold of 70 decibels or higher in the better ear and a bone conduction hearing test with an average threshold of 40 decibels or higher in the better ear
  • a word recognition test with a value of 40% or lower in the best ear, or
  • an air conduction hearing test with an average threshold of 50 decibels or higher in the better ear and a marked limitation in the child’s speech or language.

You will need to send evidence of an otologic exam and an audiometric test to show how the hearing loss impacts your child’s daily life.

Help To Pay For Assistive Products

If you need specific assistive products to help with your work or studies, you should contact your local councils sensory service. They may be able to provide you with equipment, whether for free or on loan, or provide you with funding to pay for it. You will likely need a referral from your hearing specialist that specifies the type of equipment you need.

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Ial Deafness Not A Disability Under Ada Federal Court Rules

Deafness in one ear is not a disability under the American with Disabilities Act, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act, because the plaintiff could not establish she was substantially limited in the major life activity of hearing, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has ruled in Mengel v. Reading Eagle Co., No. 11-6151 .


Christine Mengel, a former copy editor and page designer at the Reading Eagle newspaper, alleged she was discriminated against by her employer on the basis of her alleged disability and gender when she was laid off during a 2009 reduction in force. The company used a matrix to evaluate seven points to determine who would be let go and Mengel had the lowest score.

Mengel became deaf in one ear and suffered from balance problems as a result of successful surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2007. At her deposition, Mengel testified that she was still able to hear even though she was deaf in one ear, but had difficulty hearing in noisy environments. Further, she testified that her hearing loss was not a distraction and she did not mention any specific instances where her hearing loss caused a problem other than that she didnt hear some things.

Summary Judgment

In granting summary judgment to the employer, Eastern District of Pennsylvania Judge Lawrence F. Stengel acknowledged that deafness substantially limits hearing and that hearing is a major life activity. Therefore, he reasoned, a deaf person is disabled.

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Meet the Author

How Is Unilateral Hearing Loss Managed

Single-Sided Deafness: What Are Your Options?

Hearing loss treatments often depend on what causes your hearing loss and how severe it is.

Management options for unilateral hearing loss or single-sided deafness include:

In addition to devices, communication strategies and environmental modifications can help people with hearing loss communicate more effectively.

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