Loss of senses (hearing, vision) may result in disability

Social Security claims are generally premised on physical disability such as back pain or migraine headaches, but the loss of a sense such as seeing or hearing is just as disabling.

In this day and age of computers and email, the ability to see and read is a key aspect of most jobs. Those of us who wear glasses know how frustrating it can be to wake up in the middle of the night and need our glasses to see the clock, but our deteriorating eyesight can be corrected and we go on with our days as someone with no vision problems. Disability arises when an individual’s sight has deteriorated by age or been destroyed due to an accident or procedure to such a level that the Social Security Act defines it as “statutory blindness”. As with all Social Security claims, medical documentation of the claimant’s visual acuity is necessary. Anyone who believes they may be disabled due to their loss of vision should see have a vision test performed. Generally, the best corrected vision must be 20/200 or less to be disabled according to Social Security’s rules.

Hearing is also a material requirement of most jobs. Hearing tests should be administered to determine the individual’s hearing thresholds and speech discrimination scores in each ear. Again, Social Security will consider whether the hearing can be restored by a hearing aid. Individuals who cannot hear over the phone and have difficulty hearing in loud areas may not be disabled, but should have their hearing tested to determine the level of impairment. Testing can include caloric or other vestibular tests or audiometry to determine the level of hearing loss. A history of frequent attacks of tinnitus, balance disturbance and progressive hearing loss are all symptoms of a condition that may result in disability based on test results.

Individuals who believe they are disabled due to hearing or vision impairments should seek medical testing and then take those testing results to a Social Security Disability attorney to determine if they would qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Attorney Jennifer J. Allen is an associate attorney with Alan C. Olson & Associates, S.C. If you have any questions about Social Security Disability, please contact her at [email protected].


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