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(such as repayment for obtaining medical records)
from veterans nor from people who suffer from multiple sclerosis.

Can you get disability benefits for tinnitus?

Qualifying for disability benefits due to tinnitus can be challenging because tinnitus alone may not meet the criteria for disability under the Social Security Administration guidelines. To be eligible for disability benefits, you and your condition must fulfill specific requirements detailed in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Blue Book. This book contains a list of impairments and the corresponding evaluation criteria for disability.

Tinnitus is not specifically listed as a separate impairment in the Blue Book. However, suppose your tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying medical condition that meets the criteria for disability. In that case, you may be able to qualify based on that condition. For example, suppose you have hearing loss and tinnitus, and the combined effects of these impairments meet the criteria for disability. In that case, you may be eligible for benefits.

Is your tinnitus affecting your ability to work? Can you demonstrate this through medical records, treatment history, and supporting documentation? If so, you can make a case for disability benefits through a medical-vocational allowance. The duration of the tinnitus must be at least 12 months or more. Furthermore, the individual’s involvement in any substantial gainful activity may also be considered.

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition that causes individuals to perceive sounds even when there is no external noise present. It is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although the sound may vary from person to person. Buzzing, hissing, whistling, roaring, or clicking sounds may be heard by some people. Tinnitus can occur for a short period or persist for a prolonged duration and can affect one or both ears.

Tinnitus Disability Benefits

Is tinnitus a disability?

Yes, Tinnitus can be considered a disability in some instances, depending on its severity and impact on an individual’s ability to function and perform daily activities. Tinnitus is characterized by the perception of ringing or other sounds in the ears or head without an external source. 

While many people experience mild or intermittent tinnitus, severe and persistent cases can significantly affect an individual’s quality of life, including their ability to concentrate, communicate, sleep, and engage in social activities. If tinnitus reaches a level that substantially limits an individual’s ability to work or engage in other basic activities, they may be eligible for disability benefits.

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

The primary symptom of tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any external noise. The specific characteristics of the sound can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms and features associated with tinnitus include:

  • Ringing, buzzing, hissing, whistling, roaring, or clicking sounds: These sounds can be continuous or intermittent and vary in pitch and volume.
  • Perception in one or both ears: Tinnitus can affect one or both ears simultaneously.
  • Sensitivity to quiet environments: The symptoms of tinnitus are usually more noticeable when there are few external sounds present.
  • Impact on concentration and sleep: Tinnitus can make it difficult to focus on tasks, concentrate, or fall asleep, leading to fatigue and reduced quality of life.
  • Emotional distress: Some individuals may experience frustration, anxiety, stress, or depression due to the persistent presence of tinnitus.

What types of documentation are required to prove tinnitus as a disability?

While the specific requirements may vary depending on the context, here are some types of documentation that may be valuable:

  • Medical Records: This can include records from otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists), audiologists, and other relevant specialists.
  • Audiogram Results: Audiograms are tests that evaluate hearing ability and can assist in determining the effect of tinnitus on hearing impairment.
  • Specialist Evaluations: Expert evaluations and opinions from specialists familiar with tinnitus, such as otolaryngologists or audiologists, can support your claim for disability.
  • Psychological Evaluations: Tinnitus can have psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, or difficulty concentrating. Documentation from mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, can help establish tinnitus’s emotional and cognitive impact.

Can I receive disability benefits for tinnitus if it is not work-related?

Yes, it is possible to receive disability benefits for tinnitus, even if it is not work-related. The eligibility for disability benefits typically depends on the impact and severity of the condition rather than its specific cause. 

While work-related tinnitus may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, non-work-related tinnitus can still be considered a disabling condition if it meets the criteria for disability as defined by the applicable program or agency, such as the Social Security Administration.

Types of disability benefits

Types of Disability Benefits Description
Social Security Disability Insurance  Provides benefits to individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through their work history and have accumulated enough work credits.
Supplemental Security Income  Provides financial assistance to individuals with limited income and resources who have disabilities, including tinnitus.

I meet the eligibility criteria of SSA. Now what?

The next step is to apply for tinnitus disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.

  • Begin with the Application Process: Begin by completing the initial application for disability benefits, either online at the SSA’s official website, by calling their toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting a local SSA office.
  • Gather Medical Documentation: Collect essential medical documentation to support your disability claim for tinnitus.
  • Submit the Application and Documentation: After completing the application, the claimant must submit it along with other medical records required by the SSA. It is also necessary that they must keep copies of all the documents for future records. 
  • Wait for the SSA’s decision: After submitting your application, the SSA will review your case. The reviewing procedure may take a few weeks to several months. Therefore, the applicant must be patient and follow up with the SSA on the progress of their application.

Can I appeal a decision if my application is denied?

Yes, if your application for disability benefits due to tinnitus is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. It is not uncommon for disability claims to be initially rejected, and the appeals process is designed to provide applicants with an opportunity to present additional evidence and arguments to support their case.

The specific appeals process and deadlines may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the disability benefits program or agency you are dealing with. Generally, the appeals process involves multiple stages, such as reconsideration, a hearing before an administrative law judge, and further appeals to higher-level review boards or courts if necessary.

To appeal a denial, you will typically need to submit a written request for reconsideration or file an appeal according to the specific instructions provided by the SSA. 

How much is the disability check for tinnitus?

If you are eligible for SSDI, the maximum monthly benefit is $3,627, and for SSI is $914 in 2023. However, the disability check may vary depending on your work and income history.

Need legal help! Contact The Chermol & Fishman, LLC 

Consulting with a disability attorney with experience in handling appeals can be beneficial. They can guide you through the appeals process, help you gather the necessary evidence, prepare your case, and represent you in hearings or appeals if required.

Contact Chermol & Fishman, LLC
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