We will provide you with, free of charge, a reasonable accommodation that allows you to participate and enjoy the benefits of Social Security programs and activities. We are unable to provide individually prescribed devices or other personal devices, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. SSA uses its own medical guide, known as the Blue Book, to determine whether or not an applicant will qualify for disability benefits. To be approved for hearing loss, your hearing ability must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Blue Book.
Information on eligibility for hearing loss can be found in sections 2.10 and 2.11 of the Blue Book. Yes, being deaf is considered a disability because it can affect how you participate in daily life, including going to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) automatically grants disability benefits to victims who suffer a profound hearing loss in both ears. Medicare is a federally funded insurance program for people 65 and older and young people who receive social security disability benefits.
Unfortunately, Medicare only covers hearing exams and does not cover hearing aids. People with Medicaid, a jointly funded federal and state insurance program for low-income people, may receive partial or full coverage for their hearing aids, depending on their state. For those with these accounts, the cost of a hearing aid and batteries is considered refundable. Hearing aids and most hearing tests are not covered by Medicare.
Medicaid may cover hearing aids, but each state's requirements are different. The Hearing Loss Association of America website has information by state. SSA uses its own guide that evaluates whether Social Security benefits are approved or denied to a person because of disability. It is known colloquially as the Blue Book and it also lists what medical evidence is needed to qualify for Social Security benefits.
If you have hearing loss, you can qualify through the Blue Book in two ways: if you are being treated without a cochlear implant and if you are being treated with a cochlear implant. People with hearing impairments should understand how these disabilities are addressed in the list of impairments used by Social Security. If a person who is deaf or hard of hearing needs an interpreter to fully interact and communicate with the Social Security Administration, it is a good idea to ask for one to be provided. You can still get disability benefits if you can show that there are no jobs you can do with the amount of hearing loss you suffer from.
The entire Blue Book is available online, so you can review hearing loss thresholds and word recognition scores with your doctor and hearing care provider to determine if you qualify. This also means that total deafness in one ear, with no or little hearing loss in the other ear, will not qualify you for disability benefits. For example, if your employer can modify your job to accommodate your hearing loss, or if you have always worked in a job that didn't require good hearing, you won't be approved for benefits. The otological examination should be performed by a licensed doctor, who will analyze the person's medical history and the ways in which hearing loss has affected his life.
While cochlear implantation can have an impact on your hearing loss, it is an expensive undertaking and not all insurance policies cover the procedure. If you have had cochlear implants in one or two ears, you are automatically entitled to disability benefits for 12 months after implantation, whether or not there is an improvement in your hearing within 12 months. According to the National Institute of the Center for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are more than 37 million American adults who suffer from some form of hearing loss. If SSA places hearing restrictions on your RFC, you may not be able to perform work that requires telephone or radio communication, work with a lot of background noise, or work that uses hazardous machinery.
To decide if your hearing impairment increases to the level of a disability that prevents you from working, SSA will give you a rating of the type of work you think you can do (sedentary work, light work, medium work, or heavy work). Just because your hearing loss doesn't meet the guidelines listed in the SSA Blue Book doesn't mean you can't be approved for SSDI benefits. If you have profound hearing loss or deafness, you should be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The amount of SSDI benefits paid for deafness or severe hearing loss depends on your lifetime income.