Qualifying for Social Security Disability With Hearing Loss

Only individuals with profound hearing loss or deafness will automatically qualify for SSI or SSDI benefits in Omaha. Hearing impairments cannot be partial, restored by use of a hearing aid, or expected to last less than 12 months in duration.

In order to demonstrate that you meet the standard, you should first obtain a complete otological workup. Within two months of the workup, schedule an appointment with an otolaryngologist or qualified audiologist for one or both of the following hearing exams:

  • Standardized word recognition test – You are unable to repeat more than 40% of words used in the test. The exam is completed without use of a hearing aid.
  • Audiometry test – Without a hearing aid, you will demonstrate:
    • In the better ear, an average hearing threshold sensitivity for air condition of 90 decibels or worse.
    • In the better ear, bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or worse.
    • Overall hearing loss is calculated by averaging the range heard at 500 hertz, 1,000 hertz, and 2,000 hertz.


Even if you include results within a qualifying range with your disability benefits application, you may be scheduled for a follow-up auditory evoked response exam with a qualified audiologist. The test essentially confirms prior test results by measuring your brainwave response to tones.

Cochlear Implants

When you have cochlear implants surgically implanted in one or both ears, you automatically qualify for a full year of disability benefits. Eligibility does not depend on the success or failure of the implants. At the end of one year, you’ll take a “Hearing in Noise” word recognition test. Benefits will continue if word recognition is 60% or less.

Applicants Who Don’t Meet Standards

A lot of individuals may be eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits even if the standard isn’t met. If this is the case for you, you’ll need to provide Social Security with persuasive evidence demonstrating how less-than-total hearing loss damages your ability to work.

Build your case by identifying, and then find hard evidence supporting, the hardships hearing loss creates for you in:

  • Communication
  • Learning workplace duties
  • Successfully completing regular workplace tasks


While it’s true that easily identifying sounds and words is necessary for many types of work—telephone communication, for example—there are also employment options where hearing is less essential. It is possible that a vocational expert may suggest you try to find a job in one of these fields.

That’s why if you aren’t someone who automatically meets the SSA impairment standard for hearing loss, you’ll want to consider building your case from the start with an experienced  Omaha disability benefits attorney at Cuddigan Law. Call (402) 933-5405 or email [email protected] to find out more. Also, ask for a copy of our free report, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.

Timothy J. Cuddigan (Founder - Retired)
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Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience