How Deaf Do You Have To Be In Order To Be Considered Disabled?




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Life with deafness is, no doubt, challenging. Nonetheless, you can leverage this life into a prosperous one, just by putting in a little effort to be qualified for disability benefits. 

But how deaf do you have to be to be considered disabled? There is a test called the word recognition test. If anyone is scoring 60 or less on this test he or she is officially disabled and qualified for disability benefits. 

Deaf Do You Have To Be To Be Disabled

Here is a related article that might interest you on How do Deaf People Communicate?

Disability benefits are available for a profound hearing loss either through medical-vocational allowance or by meeting the Social Security Administration (SSA) criteria. 

You have to satisfy the authorities that this particular hearing loss hinders smooth working and makes you eligible for the designated benefits. 

How Deaf Do You Have To Be In Order To Be considered Disabled – What Is Ssa Option? 

Apart from the SSA option, you can also get benefits from the medical-vocational allowance route. Nevertheless, you have to prove that hearing loss has shut your employment prospect considering your academics, age, and experience. 

Having said that, SSA’s standards are a bit too rigorous. It does not entertain mild hearing issues, nor do you qualify if you have hearing intact in one ear. 

First Phase: Get Medical Evidence First

Firstly, a qualified otolaryngologist (ENT) assures that the hearing loss is permanent. Sometimes, deafness can be temporary owing to infection, nerve ruptures, wax buildup, allergies, or viruses. After confirmation, the person under examination has to hop on to the next step. 

Second Phase: Audiometric Testing

Secondly, a licensed audiologist takes a documented audiometric test without hearing aids to satisfy the SSA’s criteria. The auditory revoked testing measures brain response to the sound waves. This sophisticated system cannot be dodged. 

Official SSA Criteria for Hearing Loss

The SSA criteria for hearing impairment are listed in an official document known as “Blue Book”. Blue Book states the requirements for automatically being qualified for disability benefits. 

Nevertheless, there are different criteria for those with cochlear implants and those without these. 

Hearing Impairment Without Cochlear Implants

To satisfy the SSA’s listing 2.10, there are two recommended tests, you need to qualify for any one of these. 

First Test: Bone Conduction Audiometry Test

The bone conduction audiometry test is also known as the Pure Tone Test. The data of the test portrays that the minimum threshold for air conduction should be around 90 decibels (dB) or worse. This testing is calculated at the varying sound frequencies of 500, 1,000, and 2,000 Hz. 

Second Test: Word Recognition Test

Word Recognition Test is based on a standardized list that should not be repeated up to 40% of its capacity. The set tone average for this test is 45 dB or worse. 

Hearing Impairment with Cochlear Implantation

Hearing Impairment with Cochlear Implantation

SSA’s listing 2.11 applies If you have a cochlear implant in either one or both ears. Amazingly, right after implantation surgery, you are automatically entitled to attain the disability benefits for the whole year. 

No matter, if the hearing improves again. That said, after one year of implantation surgery, the word recognition score on the “Hearing in Noise Test” should be 60% or less. The disability favor will be extended to you until the grade improves. 

How Does SSA Listing Work?

SSA listing is the capacity to perform work and do daily activities. It also determines which type of work is suitable for you. The significant hearing loss is a pure tone average of 50 dB tested in varying frequencies. This threshold defines 60% of wrong perceptions of the words you read. This threshold defines the significant occupational impairment. 

SSA Occupational Rating

After the assessment, SSA provides you occupational ratings on the type of work. The rating of the type of the work goes as;

  • Sedentary work.
  • Light work. 
  • Medium work.
  • Heavy work. 

This rating is called Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). The lower your RFC rating, the fewer jobs you can perform. For example, to be eligible for the Light Work category, the pure tone average must be worse than 40 dB. 

Concluding Notes

All in all, deafness might be challenging, but it does not mean that you are deprived of living wages. You can still win the right type of job for you through the SSA channel. 

Hence, it is pertinent to make an informed decision and get the full entitled benefits. After sanctioning the right benefits for you, you can earn, live, and spend gracefully. The sky’s the limit, let’s conquer it together. 

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