by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady asked:

Do you know what degree of hearing loss would qualify a person for Social Security Disability? Unaided I have approximately 80% loss in my left ear and aproximately 50% loss in my right. I have hearing aids but can’t wear them all day.

There is no set degree of hearing loss that makes you eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) here in the USA. Each application is decided on a case by case basis. What is required is that you must have a “functional limitation” that prevents you from working for a living.

Since you have some residual hearing and wear hearing aids that help you–even though you don’t wear them all the time (neither do I)–and since there are many other assistive devices that can also help you to effectively communicate, it is highly unlikely you would meet the requirements of a functional limitation that prevents you from working.

Hearing loss alone shouldn’t prevent you from working. In fact, there are many jobs you can do that do not require much hearing. These occupations range all the way from entry level jobs such as dish washing, stocking shelves and janitorial work to working on an assembly line, to entering data (keyboarding) or bookkeeping, to writing or editing books and articles, to coding complex computer programs. In addition, there are many skilled trades such as sewing or cabinetmaking that do not require good hearing. When you really look, the list is almost endless.

To be sure, hearing loss does make it harder (maybe even much harder), but not impossible, to function on the job. I well know what that is like as my hearing has been worse than yours all my life. What I did was choose occupations that I both liked and where my poor hearing would not totally block me.

Instead of withdrawing from the workforce, look at the many job possibilities open to you as a hard of hearing person. As one wise person said:

“Success comes in cans.
Failure comes in can’ts.”

What you really need is a “can do” attitude that you take with you to your job. So, tomorrow morning, instead of lamenting your poor hearing, take a “can” of success with you. It will make all the difference.