Evaluating Continuing Disability Review (CDR) Claims for Beneficiaries with Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted, electronic device that can provide a sense of sound in some people who are deaf or have a profound loss of hearing. A cochlear implant does not restore hearing. Instead, it turns sounds in the environment into electronic signals that are sent to the auditory nerve. The recipient must learn to interpret the signals as speech and other sounds.

Cochlear implants are most helpful for children and those who have lost their hearing as adults. It can be very difficult for someone with lifelong hearing loss to learn to associate signals as sounds.

A cochlear implant consists of:

  • A microphone to pick up sounds
  • A speech processor that analyzes the sounds that are picked up by the microphone
  • A transmitter/receiver which turns the sounds into electric impulses
  • An electrode array that sends the electric impulses to the auditory nerve

While many people with cochlear implants are eventually able to understand conversation, speak on the telephone, and even listen to music, it takes time for the brain to be able to make sense of the signals that are sent to the auditory nerve. For most patients, this process takes about one year. But, it can take longer.

The Social Security Administration understands that it takes time to adjust to a cochlear implant. Therefore, disability listing 2.11 states that any adult who receives a cochlear implant is considered disabled for one year after the initial cochlear implantation. After that year, the implant recipient may be considered disabled as long as he or she receives a word recognition score of 60 percent or less determined on the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT).

Do you have questions about SSDI for cochlear implants? Boston disability attorney John Keefe has written a book to help all SSDI applicants. Request your free copy of Unlocking the Mystery: The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process.

To schedule an appointment with the New England SSDI lawyers at Keefe Disability Law, please call 888-904-6847.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer