If your hearing loss prevents you from working and earning a gainful living, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a resource for millions of Americans who are unable to work due to a serious illness.
Hearing loss can qualify for disability, meaning you may be eligible for monthly payments to help cover your medical costs, medication copayments, rent or mortgage payments, groceries and utilities, and any other daily living needs.
Medical Eligibility With Hearing Loss
The SSA maintains its own criteria for disability eligibility, known colloquially as the “Blue Book.” If your condition matches a listing in the Blue Book, you could be approved for Social Security disability.
Hearing loss is listed in Section 2.00 of the Blue Book.
With a cochlear implant:
Qualifying will vary depending on whether you have a cochlear implant. If you’ve had a cochlear implantation, you will qualify for at least 12 months after your surgery.
After a year has passed, you will maintain eligibility if you have a word recognition score of 60% or less using the HINT.
Without a cochlear implant:
Without a cochlear implant, there are two ways to qualify:
- You 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% or less in the better ear determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced single-syllable words.
The entire Blue Book can be found online so you can review the hearing loss listings with your audiologist to determine if you will qualify.
It’s important to note that if you use hearing aids to successfully improve your hearing, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
You also will not qualify if you have a job that doesn’t require hearing, such as a marketing or editorial job.
Finally, it’s important to note that the SSA will evaluate your hearing based on your “best ear.” Applicants who only experience hearing loss in one ear will not qualify.
Starting Your Application
The easiest place to apply for Social Security disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. If you’d like you can have a family member apply on your behalf, or you can save the application to be completed at a later time if you’re unable to finish in one sitting.
If you’d rather apply at your closest Social Security office, you can do so by calling the SSA toll free at 1-800-325-0778 TTY to schedule an appointment at your closest Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 SSA offices located across the country.
You’ll typically hear back from the SSA in 3-5 months regarding your claim. Once approved, you can focus on your health.
- SSA Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm
- Blue Book Section 2.00: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm – 2_10
- Disability Benefits and Hearing Loss: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disabling-conditions/hearing-loss
- SSA Office Locations: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disability-attorney
- SSA Online Application: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib