When is hearing loss a hearing disability, and what can I do about it?
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you know how these conditions sometimes make your life more difficult. For some people, their hearing impairment qualifies as a disability-and you might be one of them. But if you are, what does that mean for you?
Regardless, whether you experience mild hearing loss, noise induced hearing loss, or complete deafness, you deserve health care and communication access.
What types of hearing loss are there?
To figure out if your hearing loss counts as a hearing disability and what hearing care you'll need, let's first discuss some of the different types of hearing loss that people can experience.
Medically, there are four main types of hearing loss, which we'll discuss in turn:
Conductive Hearing Loss
This kind of hearing loss occurs when something in your ear is no longer allowing sounds to get through (in other words, it can no longer "conduct" them). Fortunately, the CDC mentions that medicine or surgery can often treat this kind of hearing loss since it might happen due to a temporary blockage or some other easily-fixable issue.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
A somewhat more complicated kind of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss. Where conductive hearing loss tends to be due to outer- or mid-ear issues, sensorineural hearing loss is usually due to issues with the inner ear or hearing nerve. The most common form of hearing loss is an irreversible form of this kind. It is usually never fully healed, though it can be treated through some sort of assistive listening device such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant.
Mixed Hearing Loss
When hearing loss is due to issues stemming from both of the previous types at once, it is, intuitively enough, called mixed hearing loss.
Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder
With this form of hearing loss, everything physically works fine with the ears, and sound is received normally. That doesn't necessarily mean that you experience normal hearing. The problem is that something in the way that sound is processed or organized makes it difficult or impossible for the brain to understand what is being heard properly. Treating this condition can involve using specialized assistive technology like a hearing aid that helps the listener better understand sounds that their brain is receiving.
What qualifies as a hearing disability?
Any hearing loss may qualify as a hearing disability if it is serious enough to adversely affect your ability to live or work as you used to. The Social Security Administration has a long and thorough list of what qualifies as disability and what kind of information you will need to share with them about your condition to apply for benefits. You will need information from your medical providers proving that you have profound hearing loss and details its severity (along with some other factors) to apply for disability.
Can I expect social security aid for my hearing disability?
As with many disabilities, you can't be sure beforehand if you will qualify for social security aid. That's why it's important to know how to file for disability so that you can find out as soon as possible what information the government will need from you and provide it to them so that they can start evaluating your situation.
However, it is definitely possible to receive social security aid for a hearing disability, whether in the short or long term. For instance, many recipients of cochlear implants can receive hearing care for up to a year after the cochlear implant first received. At the same time, those who have suffered either moderate hearing loss or severe hearing loss, even in different forms, may be able to receive aid for a longer duration, depending on the type of their condition and on their fulfilling of other qualifications.
Does a hearing aid or cochlear implant disqualify me from SSDI?
Although you will want to check using the particulars of your situation, SSDI and SSD for hearing loss are generally still possible for some who have received aid in the form of an assistive listening device, at least in the short term.
How do I apply for social security disability insurance?
To apply, you can either contact the Social Security Administration directly or work through a third-party website that will help you organize your application, such as Benefits.com. There will be some specific forms you need to fill out, some evidence and information that your medical providers will need to give you so that you can provide them to the government, and some steps you'll have to follow to make sure that the application is properly submitted. This process is somewhat different for different kinds of disabilities, so make sure that you are carefully following the instructions for hearing disability claims.