Q: Can I collect Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) for a Hearing Impairment?
Sadly, while you could shout the news from the rooftop-- that America’s most common on-the-job injury is hearing loss—many of those affected may not be able to hear it.
Between mining, manufacturing, construction and other sectors of the work force, approximately 22 million workers are exposed to “hazardous levels of occupational noise”, resulting in Worker’s Compensation claims estimated by the Department of Labor of about $242 million annually.
Hearing impairments can take many different forms; some conditions are permanent, while others are temporary. Some cause pain, others do not. The hearing loss can range from minor to total. Some can be treated with a cochlear implant while others can’t. This wide range of hearing impairment cases can complicate things for workers who seek SSDI benefits because their condition prevents them from returning to work.
In a nutshell, SSDI is financial assistance from the federal government for people who are considered disabled, are younger than 65, and have worked and contributed to the Social Security System. “Disabled” is defined by the government as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months”. There are specific categories of covered conditions and on-going medical treatment requirements. In addition, your age and particular situation can affect your eligibility, so it’s best to consult an experienced SSDI attorney for assistance.
While hearing impairment is listed as one of the SSDI covered conditions, and falls under the Special Senses and Speech category, one man found that his application for SSDI benefits for hearing impairment related to decades of work as a construction worker was denied because his particular diagnosis of hyperacusis (an unusual intolerance towards ordinary sounds) was not considered disabling. Decades of working daily around loud equipment like jackhammers, without wearing any protective ear coverings had taken a toll. He spends much time in a soundproof room in his home and avoids going outdoors as the pain from ordinary noise and conversation is difficult.
Many people file SSDI or SSI claims on their own, either mistakenly thinking the process is simple and straight-forward or thinking that attorneys don’t offer assistance. Some even attempt to navigate the appeal process for their application’s denial on their own. However Social Security Disability attorneys are there to assist the disabled at all phases of the SSDI process, from application through appeals, if needed.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a disability, the Social Security Disability Law firm of Peña & Bromberg, PLC can help. We serve clients throughout Central Valley California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, and Modesto as well as nationwide. Contact us here or call 866-282-6811.