Hearing loss comes at various levels of severity. At what point does it become a disability? We’d like to discuss the legal definition of “hearing loss,” explain the various categories, and show you whether you qualify for disability benefits?
Defining Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can involve the inability to hear certain sounds at various decibel levels. It can also pertain to how well you hear certain kinds of sounds like whispers, bird noises, normal conversation, and so forth.
For the purposes of legally defining hearing disability, the law considers only the former. Basically, your disability status depends on the severity of the hearing loss in one or both ears regarding decibel levels. While we’ll treat any type of hearing difficulty, it’s important to realize that disability status adheres to a stricter, narrower definition.
This is how the Social Security Administration measures hearing disability.
- Word recognition of 40% or less in the better ear.
- Average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or more in the better ear.
- Average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels in the better ear.
Hearing Loss Categories
We can determine where your hearing falls within the spectrum between normal hearing and profound hearing loss when you visit Coastal Hearing Care for a hearing evaluation. The degree of hearing loss is a quantitative measurement based on how well you hear sounds below certain decibel thresholds. Here’s how that works:
- Normal Hearing – Only have difficulty hearing sounds below 20 decibels
- Mild Hearing Loss – Difficulty hearing sounds below 40 decibels
- Moderate Hearing Loss – Difficulty hearing sounds below 60 decibels
- Severe Hearing Loss – Difficulty hearing sounds below 80 decibels
- Profound Hearing Loss – Difficulty hearing sounds below 81 decibels
These categories are useful because they allow us to gauge treatment requirements for either one or both ears. These differ from the legal definitions mentioned above, though. For a disability application, the SSA thresholds take precedence.
Do You Qualify for Disability Benefits?
If you meet the definitional standards for hearing loss, you may qualify for disability benefits. However, it is a means-tested program.
The SSA rarely grants benefits unless hearing loss is present in both ears. This is true even if you have total hearing loss in one ear. If you’d like to learn more about qualifications, visit the SSA’s website for requesting reasonable accommodations.
Coastal Hearing Care offers comprehensive testing and treatment for hearing loss for clients in and around Bradenton, Florida. It’s so important to know where you stand in terms of hearing disability. We always recommend ways to discover problems earlier for more effective intervention methods. If you’d like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing aids, or any of our other services, call us at 941-229-2122.