According to statistics by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 14% (27.7 million) of adults ages 20-69 have reported some trouble with hearing. Hearing loss can occur at birth, gradually develop, or happen suddenly because of illness or injury.

Medical advances in recent years, such as cochlear implants, have improved the chances of correcting hearing loss. However, these treatments may not help everyone who suffers from hearing loss.

Those with severe hearing loss may find that it affects their ability to work. This is especially true for those whose hearing loss developed as an adult. It could take significant time for them to learn how to communicate with others again. Plus, good hearing is an essential function of many jobs.

If you have a hearing loss that interferes with your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.

Hearing Loss and SSDI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a 5 step process to determine eligibility for SSDI benefits. Those filing a disability claim for hearing loss must go through the following process:

1. Determine if the claimant is working at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level as defined by the SSA in the year they file. The SGA level for 2020 is a monthly income of $1,260.

2. Determine if the claimant’s complications from their hearing loss significantly hinders their ability to perform basic work activities such as

  • sitting
  • standing
  • reaching
  • pulling or pushing
  • lifting or carrying
  • simple cognitive reasoning

3. Determine if complications from the claimant’s hearing loss meet the criteria outlined in the SSA’s impairments list. Hearing loss claimants can qualify under two different listings.

To qualify for disability benefits, you must have medical records which show that your hearing loss meets or equals one of the following listings:

Hearing Loss (2.10) –Under this listing, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

Have an average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels (dB) or greater in your better ear and have an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 dB or greater in your better ear,


Not be able to recognize more than 40% of words spoken from a standardized word recognition list into your better ear.

Hearing Loss with a Cochlear Implant (2.11) –If you have cochlear implants in one or both ears, you should automatically qualify for disability benefits for at least one year following the surgery. After one year, your disability benefits could be extended if the standardized word recognition test shows you are unable to recognize more than 60% of the words during your test.

4. Determine if the claimant can still do any work they may have done before despite the complications caused by their hearing loss.

5. Determine if the claimant can do any other work based upon their:

  • age
  • education
  • prior work experience
  • mental and physical capabilities

Getting Help with Your Hearing Loss Claim

Do you experience a partial or total hearing loss that affects your ability to work? You could receive disability benefits to help you cover your expenses. You can file your claim on your own, but you must meet specific requirements and provide relative documents. You could make a mistake that would lead to the denial of your claim. You should think about getting the help of an experienced disability attorney. A disability attorney will know what documentation you need to file and help you gather the best records to prove your claim.

Brock & Stout’s disability lawyers have over 20 years of experience helping clients with hearing loss get the benefits they need. Contact us for a free evaluation and let us see if we can help you.