Can You File a Disability Claim for Hearing Loss?

According to the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), hearing loss is the third most common physical condition among adults, with 24% of hearing difficulty among U.S. workers caused by occupational exposure.[1]

While one associates work-related hearing loss with careers like construction, studies have shown that the rates of hearing loss and tinnitus among dentists are double that of the general population, as a result of noise exposure from dental tools (such as high-speed handpieces).[2]  Unaided hearing loss has also been linked to increased depression, social isolation, and hospitalization. Further, it can result in reduced motor coordination, impaired cognition, learning, and memory.[3]

Like the two other most common disabling conditions experienced by dentists, musculoskeletal issues and vision loss, hearing loss and tinnitus are often slowly progressive and degenerative conditions—making it difficult to determine when and if symptoms have reached a level to prevent a dentist from safely practicing.

Hearing loss typically comes on gradually and, as it worsens, dentists may take steps to mitigate exacerbation of symptoms by either reducing the hours they work or avoiding doing procedures that exacerbate symptoms.  However, this can be problematic from a claims perspective because insurance companies will typically review dentists’ CDT codes to determine if they can argue that the dentist has modified his or her occupation.

If you are a dentist with a hearing condition that you feel may begin to compromise your ability to work, an experienced disability insurance attorney can help you evaluate whether you have a claim under your policy and guide you in preparing a transition plan so that, in the event you have to file a claim down the road, you are prepared and have not jeopardized your ability to collect.

These posts are for informative purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and diagnosis by a medical professional. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above and have yet to consult with a doctor, do not use this resource to self-diagnose. Please contact your doctor immediately and schedule an appointment to be evaluated for your symptoms.

[1] Occupational Hearing Loss (OHL) Surveillance National Inst. for Occ. Safety and Health, last reviewed Dec. 9, 2019,

[2] Ian D. Murray, BA, HIS, AHIP, IHS, Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Among Dentists, 73 The Hearing Journal, 10, January 2020,

[3] Id.

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