The sounds people experience in the environment such as voices from the TV and radio, traffic noises, and motor and mechanical An Ear Receiving Sound Wavessounds from household appliances are normally at safe levels. The sounds are part of everyday life and usually don’t hurt a person’s ears or cause hearing loss. However, some sounds, even if experienced for a short time, can be harmful and damage the inner ear, causing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Some people become seriously disabled due to their hearing loss, and they’re unable to work. When symptoms are severe, it’s possible to be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Causes of NIHL

There are many causes of NIHL. Many recreational activities that seem harmless can negatively affect a person’s hearing over time. Here is a short list of activities that could put you at risk for NIHL:

  • If you participate in target shooting and hunting
  • If you’re an avid snowmobile rider
  • If you listen to music at high volumes through a set of headphones or earbuds
  • If you play in a band
  • If you attend loud music concerts
  • If you spend a lot of time outside using lawnmowers or leaf blowers
  • If you use woodworking tools
  • If you attend sporting events
  • If you spend a lot of time in night clubs

There is also occupational noise exposure that can cause NIHL. Here is a short list of jobs that could affect your hearing:

  • Military
  • Construction work
  • Sand or gravel mining
  • Farming
  • Police officers and firefighters
  • Night club disc jockeys

People who suffer from hearing loss can also suffer other impairments. NIHL is associated with functional disability that can lead to poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and isolation. Even if a person’s hearing loss is minimal, it can negatively impact how he views his well-being and independence. And in the work environment, people who are hearing impaired often report feeling embarrassment, incompetence, and panic.

If you are filing for Social Security Disability because of hearing loss, impairments that qualify are cited in the SSA Blue Book under “Special Senses and Speech/Hearing Impairments.” To be eligible, you must show that a hearing aid will not restore your hearing.

If your hearing problems are due to noise exposure, and they’ve become debilitating or are interfering with your ability to do your job, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska