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HEARING LOSS: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

by Committee on Disability Determination for Individuals Hearing Impairments

Millions of Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates programs that provide cash disability benefits to people with permanent impairments like hearing loss, if they can show that their impairments meet stringent SSA criteria and their earnings are below an SSA threshold. The National Research Council convened an expert committee at the request of the SSA to study the issues related to disability determination for people with hearing loss. This volume is the product of that study. Hearing Loss: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefitsreviews current knowledge about hearing loss and its measurement and treatment, and provides an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the current processes and criteria. It recommends changes to strengthen the disability determination process and ensure its reliability and fairness. The book addresses criteria for selection of pure tone and speech tests, guidelines for test administration, testing of hearing in noise, special issues related to testing children, and the difficulty of predicting work capacity from clinical hearing test results. It should be useful to audiologists, otolaryngologists, disability advocates, and others who are concerned with people who have hearing loss.

Visual Impairments: Determining Eligibility For Social Security Benefits

by Committee on Disability Determination for Individuals Visual Impairments

When children and adults apply for disability benefits and claim that a visual impairment has limited their ability to function, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to determine their eligibility. To ensure that these determinations are made fairly and consistently, SSA has developed criteria for eligibility and a process for assessing each claimant against the criteria. Visual Impairments: Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits examines SSA's methods of determining disability for people with visual impairments, recommends changes that could be made now to improve the process and the outcomes, and identifies research needed to develop improved methods for the future. The report assesses tests of visual function, including visual acuity and visual fields whether visual impairments could be measured directly through visual task performance or other means of assessing disability. These other means include job analysis databases, which include information on the importance of vision to job tasks or skills, and measures of health-related quality of life, which take a person-centered approach to assessing visual function testing of infants and children, which differs in important ways from standard adult tests.

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