The criteria used by Social Security for establishing hearing loss are dependent on whether the claimant has a cochlear implant, which is a device that is more than a mere hearing aid. This implant is an electronic medical apparatus that replaces the function of a damaged inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, which increase the volume of sound, cochlear implants behave as the parts of the cochlea or inner ear that send sound signals to the brain.
If a claimant has a cochlear implant, the SSA will consider him or her to be disabled until 1 year after the initial implant procedure. If a claimant’s hearing loss is treated with cochlear implantation, Social Security considers it a disability for one year after the initial procedure. If more than one year after the initial implant procedure, to still be considered a disability, the claimant’s word recognition score must be 60 percent or less determined using applicable guidelines of the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT).
This testing must be conducted in quiet in a sound field. A claimant’s implant must be functioning properly and adjusted to normal settings. The sentences should be presented at 60 dB HL (Hearing Level) and without any visual cues.
If a claimant does not have a cochlear implant, Social Security requires audiometric testing in the form of pure tone air conduction and bone conduction testing, speech reception threshold (SRT) testing (also referred to as “spondee threshold” or “ST”‘ testing), and word recognition testing (also referred to as “word discrimination” or “speech discrimination” testing). This testing must be conducted in a sound-treated booth or room and must be in accordance with the most recently published standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Each ear must be tested separately.
A claimant may not wear hearing aids during the testing. The otoscopic examination must show that there are no conditions that would prevent valid audiometric testing, such as fluid in the ear, ear infection, or obstruction in an ear canal. The person performing the test should also report on any other factors, such as the claimant’s cooperation taking the test, that may affect the interpretation of the test results.
The SRT is the minimum dB level required for a claimant to recognize 50 percent of the words on a standard list of spondee words (two-syllable words that have equal stress on each syllable). Word recognition testing determines a claimant’s ability to recognize a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words in the absence of any visual cues. This testing must be conducted in a quiet setting at a level of amplification that will measure a claimant’s maximum ability to discriminate words, usually at a sufficient decibel level above his or her SRT.
Every application for social security benefits requires the consideration of a substantial list of issues over the life of a case. It’s one matter to apply for and receive benefits, but it’s another to understand what happens after this occurs over the long road ahead. The Sullivan Law Office provides over two decades of experience and can represent and assist you throughout the entire process in all disability cases. Contact the Sullivan Law Office today. We offer free consultations, so you have absolutely nothing to lose! We look forward to hearing from you. Call 888-587-0228 or visit us online.