How much hearing loss is considered disabled ?

Hearing loss is considered disabled when you qualify some rule which is important to identify, there are certain criteria and you are no longer able to work, applying for assistance. The SSA will compare your condition with the listing conditions of SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book contains all of the conditions that could qualify an individual for disability benefits. Along with the criteria that must be matched in order to qualify for each Blue Book listing.

In order to qualify for disability benefits due to hearing loss, you must be able to prove that you meet the criteria established in either Section 2.10 or 2.11 of the Blue Book. If one of the rules suits you than you are having hearing loss.

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Section 2.10 of the Blue Book addresses hearing loss that is not treated with cochlear implantation. In order to qualify for disability benefits you must be able to prove that:

  • Your average air conduction hearing threshold is 90 decibels or greater in the better ear and your average bone conduction threshold is 60 decibels or greater in the better ear; or
  • Your word understanding score is 40* or less for better ear using a standardized list of monosyllabic words.

Section 2.11 of Blue Book listing hearing loss that treated with cochlear implantation. In this section you will be identified to be disabled:

  • For a period of one year after the initial implantation; or
  • One year passed after implantation and your word recognition score is still 60* or less.

Hearing loss is classified by its intensity and by age.

Two persons with the same intensity of hearing loss will experience it quite differently if it occurs early or late in life. Furthermore, a loss can occur on only one side (unilateral) or on both (bilateral).

Hearing loss may be as mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound:


  • for adults: between 26 and 40 dB HL
  • for children: between 20 and 40 dB HL

Moderate: between 41 and 54 dB HL

Moderately severe: between 55 and 70 dB HL

Severe: between 71 and 90 dB HL

Profound: 91 dB HL or greater.

Totally Deaf: Have no hearing at all.

Mild hearing loss
You may hear the conversation or the speech. But soft sounds are hard to hear such as the voice of baby

Moderate hearing loss
You can hear the speech or talks from another person. But you will have difficulty in comprehending what is said.

Severe hearing loss
You cannot a normal conversation or talks. Very loud sounds, such as a car horn, seems normal hearing to you.

Profound hearing loss
You cannot hear the sounds with normal volume. The only volume you can hear the loudest volume. Without hearing aids you cannot hear the normal sound.

Other consideration for Hearing Loss

You have to keep some more things in mind before applying for the benefits. For example, your employer is capable to modify your current job to accommodate your hearing loss, or if you’ve always worked at a job that didn’t require a good hearing, you won’t be approved to receive benefits of hearing loss.

You also will not qualify even if you only have hearing loss in one ear, even if the other ear is completely deaf since all hearing loss is evaluated using your best ear by the SSA.

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