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Social Security Disability for Hearing Impaired & Arthritis in Back

hearing impaired

Daniel originally came to Balin Law because of a hearing impairment. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration rarely finds one disabled solely on a hearing impairment unless at least one of two requirements are met. We asked Daniel if he was suffering from any other conditions and he said he had back pain that really hindered him from working.

Daniel had several tests done and doctors found that he had arthritis in his back. “I couldn’t do my job because of my arthritis,” Daniel said.

“I chose to hire Balin Law with my filing because I live around Amherst and they had an office very close to me. It was very convenient and I decided to stop in,” Daniel continued.

Balin Law worked with Daniel and his Social Security disability claim and was awarded a fully favorable decision. “I had a good experience with Balin Law. They told me what I needed to do and they followed through on their end. They did a really great job. There’s not a whole lot more I can say about Balin Law other than that they did their job well.” – Daniel, Balin Law Client

Social Security disability benefits for hearing loss

If you have hearing loss, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration requires at least one of the two requirements to be met. According to the SSA’s ‘Disability Evaluation Under Social Security’ guideline 2.10 for Hearing loss:

2.10  Hearing loss not treated with cochlear implantation.

A.  An average air conduction hearing threshold of 90 decibels or greater in the better ear and an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 60 decibels or greater in the better ear.

OR

B.  A word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words

2.11 Hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation.

A.  Consider under a disability for 1 year after initial implantation.

OR

B.   If more than 1 year after initial implantation, a word recognition score of 60 percent or less determined using the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT).

Disability for arthritis in lower back

wooden figure with back pain

Having arthritis in the lower back can be debilitating. On top of Daniel’s difficulty of hearing, doctors found him to have arthritis in his back.

The Social Security Administration has a set of guidelines for those suffering from arthritis in the lower back. Formerly defined under ‘1.04 Disorders of the spine’, the SSA now evaluates spinal disorders under two different sections; ‘1.15 Disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root(s)’ and ‘1.16 Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in compromise of the cauda equina’. This is a brief summary from the full ‘Disability Evaluation Under Social Security – 1.00 Musculoskeletal Disorders’.

1.15 Disorders of the skeletal spine resulting in compromise of a nerve root(s)

Disability evaluation requires documentation of A, B, C, and D:

A. Neuro-anatomic (radicular) distribution of one or more of the following symptoms consistent with compromise of the affected nerve root(s):

  1. Pain; or
  2. Paresthesia; or
  3. Muscle fatigue.

AND

B. Radicular distribution of neurological signs present during physical examination or on a diagnostic test and evidenced by 1, 2, and either 3 or 4:

  1. Muscle weakness; and
  2. Sign(s) of nerve root irritation, tension, or compression, consistent with compromise of the affected nerve root; and
  3. Sensory changes evidenced by:
    1. Decreased sensation; or
    2. Sensory nerve deficit (abnormal sensory nerve latency) on electrodiagnostic testing; or
  4. Decreased deep tendon reflexes.

AND

C. Findings on imaging consistent with compromise of a nerve root(s) in the cervical or lumbosacral spine.

AND

D. Impairment-related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning that has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and medical documentation of at least one of the following:

  1. A documented medical need for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands; or
  2. An inability to use one upper extremity to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities involving fine and gross movements, and a documented medical need for a one-handed, hand-held assistive device that requires the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand; or
  3. An inability to use both upper extremities to the extent that neither can be used to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities involving fine and gross movements.

1.16 Lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in compromise of the cauda equina

Disability evaluation requires documentation of A, B, C, and D:

A. Symptom(s) of neurological compromise manifested as:

  1. Nonradicular distribution of pain in one or both lower extremities; or
  2. Nonradicular distribution of sensory loss in one or both lower extremities; or
  3. Neurogenic claudication.

AND

B. Nonradicular neurological signs present during physical examination or on a diagnostic test and evidenced by 1 and either 2 or 3:

  1. Muscle weakness.
  2. Sensory changes evidenced by:
    1. Decreased sensation; or
    2. Sensory nerve deficit (abnormal sensory nerve latency) on electrodiagnostic testing; or
    3. Areflexia, trophic ulceration, or bladder or bowel incontinence.
  3. Decreased deep tendon reflexes in one or both lower extremities.

AND

C. Findings on imaging or in an operative report consistent with compromise of the cauda equina with lumbar spinal stenosis.

AND

D. Impairment-related physical limitation of musculoskeletal functioning that has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least 12 months, and medical documentation of at least one of the following:

  1. A documented medical need for a walker, bilateral canes, or bilateral crutches or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of both hands; or
  2. An inability to use one upper extremity to independently initiate, sustain, and complete work-related activities involving fine and gross movements, and a documented medical need for a one-handed, hand-held assistive device that requires the use of the other upper extremity or a wheeled and seated mobility device involving the use of one hand.

Summary

Sometimes, having one disabling condition may not be enough to receive Social Security Disability benefits. An experienced disability lawyer will help you explore your options and guide you through the next steps.

While SSA makes their evaluation requirements public, it is a lot of information and gets very technical. Now may not be the best time for you to learn the ins-and-outs of Disability Law; let us help. With over 130 years of experience between our 6 attorneys, you can rely on our knowledge and experience to get you the full benefits you deserve, faster and easier.

If you have a hearing impairment, arthritis, or back problems hindering your ability to work like you once could, contact Balin Law to learn about your options.