Social Security Disability Benefits for Children and Adults Who are Deaf
Approximately 15% of adults in America have some type of hearing loss and roughly 3 out of every 1,000 children born in America have a detectable haring loss. Hearing loss can prevent children and adults from working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two disability programs designed to provide financial assistance to adults who cannot work due to hearing loss and to families of a child who is disabled due to hearing loss.
What are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
SSDI is a program designed to provide financial assistance to workers who are no longer able to work due to a disability. SSI provides financial assistance to adults and children who are disabled. To qualify for either program, you must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled and meet the financial requirements set forth for both programs.
You can find information regarding the income requirements for SSI for adults and children by visiting the SSA’s website. For an adult to receive SSDI, an applicant must have worked a specific number of years based on the person’s age at the time of the disability. The SSA provides a pamphlet detailing the work and income requirements for SSDI.
The definition of disabilityfor the purposes of SSDI and SSI is the inability to work due to a mental or physical condition that will last or has lasted at least one year or is expected to result in death. To determine if an illness such as hearing loss meets the definition of a disability, the SSA uses the criteria set forth in the List of Impairments (commonly referred to as the Blue Book).
Blue Book Requirements for Adults Who are Deaf
Sections 2.10 and 2.11of the Blue Book deal with adult deafness.
In Section 2.10, adults who are not treated with cochlear implants must meet one of two requirements:
· Average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or greater in the better ear and average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or greater in the better ear based on an the average air and bone conduction hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, and 2000 Hertz or a threshold of 5 decibels over the limit of the audiometer if you do not respond to the frequency
· Word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear using a standard list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words. The test is performed at 35 to 40 dB above your SRT. If you cannot tolerate an amplification level this high, the test will be performed at the highest amplification level you can tolerate.
Section 2.11 of the Blue Book addresses adults whose hearing loss is being treated with cochlear implantation. You are considered disabled for one year after implantation OR for more than one year if your word recognition score is 60% or less using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT).
The Blue Book listing for deafness is very specific. You will need to speak with your audiologist to find out if you qualify for not.
Blue Book Requirements for Children Who are Deaf
Sections 102.10 and 102.11 of the children’s Blue Book relate to hearing loss. The requirements are different from those for adults with hearing loss.
Section 102.10 sets forth the requirements for children whose hearing loss is not being treated with cochlear implantation. For children up to the age of five, the average air conduction hearing threshold must be 50 decibels or greater in the better ear to be considered a disability. 102.00B2
For children ages 5 through 18, the child must meet one of the following criteria for hearing loss to be considered a disability:
· Average air conduction hearing threshold of 70 decibels or greater in the better ear and average bone conduction hearing threshold of 40 decibels or greater; or,
· Word recognition score of 40% or less in the better ear using a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words; or,
· Average air conduction hearing threshold of 50 decibels or greater in the better ear and a marked limitation in speech and language. 102.00b2f
Pure tone air conduction and bone conduction testing, speech threshold testing with a minimum dB level to recognize 50% of the test words, and word recognition testing using age appropriate words will be performed on children ages 5 through 18 according to ANSI standards. The tests will average hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hertz or a threshold of 5 dB over the limit of the audiometer if no response to frequencies.
Section 102.11 refers to children whose haring loss is treated with cochlear implantation. Hearing loss is considered a disability for one year after initial implantation or until the age of five, whichever date is later. Hearing loss is considered a disability for children who are five years old or older if the word recognition score is 60% or less determined using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) or Hearing in Noise Test for Children (HINT-C).
How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You can apply for disability benefits by calling the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting your local Social Security office.
For more information about disability benefits for children and adults who are deaf or who suffer from hearing loss, see the SSA’s website.
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