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Can sense impairment qualify for Social Security disability?

Karns & Kerrison

While not all forms of impairment of the senses will qualify for Social Security disability in Rhode Island, there are some that can. If you have any of the following conditions, detailed by the Social Security Administration, you may be eligible for benefits.

One form is the loss of speech. If your speech is impaired to the point that others cannot hear or understand you, your ability to work and earn a living will likely be affected and you may be approved for benefits. If you are not fluent in English, your testing will be administered in the language in which you are fluent.

Hearing loss can also be an eligible disability, but must meet certain guidelines, including the following:

  • You have had a cochlear implant for less than one year OR
  • You can only recognize up to 60 percent of words after implantation
  • You can recognize less than 40 percent of words in a standard test
  • Your hearing threshold is below the accepted decibels

In addition to hearing impairment, various forms of sight loss can also qualify. This includes a weak visual efficiency percentage, high visual impairment value or vision in the better eye that equals 20/200 or less. An automated threshold perimetry test can also be administered to determine your visual strength.

Sometimes, these impairments are the result of underlying neurological conditions and will require further evaluation. Vertigo and Meniere’s disease can also cause you to qualify for Social Security disability. This information is intended for your benefit and education and should not be taken as legal advice.


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