1. Health

Social Security Disability Income and Deaf People

By August 11, 2008

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When the news reported that unemployment had hit a six-year high, I decided it was the right time to do this article. What if you are deaf and have recently lost your job? Aside from unemployment insurance (which has time limits), you can apply for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).

Readers, I know that some of you will be wondering if having or getting a cochlear implant will affect your ability to qualify for SSDI. I could not find anything official regarding cochlear implants or hearing aids, and SSDI. From what I have read in unofficial sources, it appears that having an implant or hearing aids does not affect a person's qualifications with regard to SSDI. Does anyone have any official sources to recommend that can answer this question?

August 11, 2008 at 11:19 pm
(1) clyde says:

it should not

take off the cochlear, what happens ? badabing – DEAF

August 12, 2008 at 6:08 am
(2) Deb says:

SSDI is for those who have more than just deafness to qualify. IF you are just deaf, then it is SSI

Reason: SSDI has strigent rules, you must prove you cannot work for more than 6 months with doctor’s note

August 12, 2008 at 10:00 am
(3) SG says:

I applied for SSI before starting college at NTID. I did not qualify. Why? Because deafness is evaluated on a case-by-case basis for SSI and they said I can function in a job with minimal assistance (which can be provided by ADA or through VR).

August 12, 2008 at 11:27 am
(4) Rox says:

Deb, I have in the past received both SSI and SSDI. I am just Deaf, no other disabilities. I never had to provide a Doctor’s note, other than an audiogram.

Many places will reject your SSI application if you can talk, no matter how bad or good your hearing is.

August 12, 2008 at 1:11 pm
(5) H... says:

it varies with ss offices. some just approve everyone. some just like to give you hard time.

many deaf could not get ssi or ssdi at a ss certain office. so they went to a different office in a different city. bingo they got approved for it.

for your information, i am working full-time. i am not on ssi or ssdi.

August 12, 2008 at 6:42 pm
(6) Mary/Merle says:

If you get denied SSI because you can talk, then the solution is – to not talk, let them think you can’t talk.

I have been employed as a legal assistant for twenty years. I would think to qualify for any social security, you must literally, be unable to work. Severely obese people qualify. Deaf people “can work” – but who in the hell is going to hire a deaf person!!! The solutions are: (1) look for employment that doesn’t require communication (good luck); (2) get a damn good disabilities attorney to do the work to qualify you for social security. It is very rare for someone to qualify for social security without “real obvious reasons”.

Anyone who is deaf should qualify for social security disability. Get an attorney to handle it.

June 9, 2011 at 11:33 am
(7) susanne bean says:

i agree with mary/merle

August 13, 2008 at 11:13 am
(8) Rox says:

Mary/Merle, I’m confused by your comment… you say that “to qualify for any social security, you must literally, be unable to work.” and you also say “Anyone who is deaf should qualify for social security disability.” There are many deaf people who are able to work. So, perhaps I’m confused, but it seems like the two statements conflict with each other? Can you clarify?

August 13, 2008 at 1:58 pm
(9) Mishie says:

I’ve actually have done evaluations to determine readiness for Cochlear Implants because these individuals would like to go and get a job. Most of those individuals has lost their hearing (sudden/gradually) and now is unable to communicate effectively as a result of their deafness.

August 14, 2008 at 4:39 am
(10) dog food says:


It’s simple… it’s not about us being able to work. It’s opportunities, dear girl. Lack of opportunities is a disability in itself.

August 15, 2008 at 2:33 pm
(11) terry says:

I have two grandchildren who are deaf and have co implants each has one.They are on SSI.there mom had no trouble getting them on it.We did it when they were young and before the implants but they know they have implants and there is no problem.
After helping several friends that have gotten on SSI here in Missouri i have found out they usually turn you down the first time get a lawyer and dont give up. hang in there and keep trying

August 20, 2008 at 8:54 am
(12) Cheryl Myers says:

Yes you can get disability for deafness, and the rules have changed for Social Security, but not for deafness. It definately has changed for those with drug and alcohol addictions, which they no longer qualify. It must impair your ability to work, and deafness sure does. Also, years ago, Social Security got excited about Cochlear implants, about to FORCE those with deafness on Social Security to get one. Well guess what? That didn’t work out so well simply because some of us ended up having more problems after getting a coclear implant. In fact, like the other said, once you take off the processor, you can’t hear. I don’t know how many times I had to go for a remapping because the last remapping was so bad, I was better off not wearing the processor. Also, deafness hurts more than one life area, not just work (social, psychological, etc.). This qualifies as a disability and it is common sense that deafness is a severe disability that will result in death (according to the words used by SSA).

Thanks to Thomas Paine in his Rights of Man, we have an income here for us when we need it.

August 20, 2008 at 9:06 pm
(13) Joe says:

In order to have a chance to get Social Securiy (SS) you must plan and have absolute proff of your disability. I started in August 2006 gathering all doctor records and meeting with an SS Attorney (no mcharge) to see what test SS is looking for to prove your case. I was employed as an Account Executive and had been with my company for over 35 years. I could no longer do the job due to my hearing. I have servere to profound hearing loss. My speach is still good, I wear 2 hearing aids. I also have Tinnitus, Hyperacusis and dysfunctional Eustachian Tubes. Due to these disabilities I also have secondary depression. I had been to at least 5 doctors and all auditorygram to prove my cases but the Attorney said that was not enough. I needed 2 more absolute test. The first test I took was a Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emmissions test (DPOAE). You do nothing during this test. Its mainley used to test babies and small children to see if they have an hearing loss. The second test was an Auditory Brainstem Response test. You do nothing on this test too. The Audiologist hooks wires in certain places of your body and inserts microphones into each ear. The lights are turned off and the test beginss. I was tested between 2,000 to 4,000 freg.. She immeted sound up into the 90 db range. The test results were servere to profound hearing loss. This was an absolute test. I went back to the Attorney. She replied that Ihad a good chance of getting SS on the first. I went to my employer 3 months and let them know my plans. The company worked great with me. I won 6 months of Short term disability (STD). I left the company in August, 2007. I went to the SS office and filed 2 weeks later. I took all of the doctors information and test with me. I was approved for SS 24 days. latter. When my STD ran our in February, 2008 I won Long Term Disabilty that stated in February, 2008.

I hope the information I have shared will be of benefit to those applying for Social Security. I wish you all well. Joe

August 28, 2008 at 4:10 pm
(14) Jeff says:

I have been classified for years as a deaf person. I have had minnears disease all my life. I have balance issues. I can’t clearly hear voice and rarely use the phone. I went to Gallaudet and have always had problems with my hearing. I had been on disability for some time and recently I received a letter from SS telling me that I no longer qualified. I appealed and am going through the whole evaluation all over again. Upon completion of my hearing test by an audiologist, they say there is a big difference from my first testing years ago and now. Now they say I am not deaf and my tests are not consistent. I have to re-take the audiology portion again plus an MRI and some newfangled test on my brain stem. I feel very frustrated and felt like I was some kind of criminal or something. What is wrong with me? The insinuation feels as though I am interpreting their evaluation of me as not being honest. How can I have been deaf one minute and now they say my hearing shows too many inconsistencies between one portion of the test not agreeing with the other. I feel just awful and like I was some kind of pariah… Am I going to get in trouble here or something? I am so confused and don’t know what to make of this situation! When I was growing up I was treated as someone with a hearing problem. I was raised mostly in a hearing culture… Then later I immersed myself into the deaf culture… Now I am feeling classified as a hearing person again. I am going crazy! So depressed!

September 2, 2008 at 10:35 am
(15) Fred Hoffman says:

I have been trying to get my ssi benefits for nearly 2 years and are sill waiting Its hard for the admistration to find deaf folks need contant accomoidation now being a machine operator all my adult life and and was tols by ssi that I should aviod concentrated noise and vibration from there assesment leaves me hardley any opportunity to gain substantial work.I think that the powewrs that be feel we should give up any dignity because were disabeld..

October 6, 2008 at 1:59 pm
(16) Trista says:

HoH (Moderate/Severe hearing loss) I’m just starting on the road and already running in to problems on day one for SSI. I’d love to hire an attorney to all this leg work but I simply can’t afford it. If anyone has any advice or recommendations, please post.

After being laid off 6 months ago, moving to a larger city, and now finding jobs won’t hire (economy or just my ADA?).

Day 1: Finally got a telephone interview for SSI, and with my friend/translator, only to be put on hold for over an hour (hung up after that). Then finding out (by voicemail) that they called back while we were on hold to reschedule. — sucks, wasted time.

Hearing loss is a disability, just like loosing a hand or a limb. Yes, you can try to find a productive job, but for many of us, there are very few offering positions/chances.

October 24, 2008 at 12:06 pm
(17) Lee says:

The law assistant who posted it is not always true…I don’t get it at all. If I were blind I would be eligible for SSDI. Lucky me I am now profoundly deaf. As a youth due to my autoimmune cancerous disease, which caused the deafness I received SSI my entire life. So I’m catastrophically ill and deaf today. Then idiot I am I decided to do one single EASY thing in life and be happy guess what folks, I got married two years ago and bye to SSI and bye to Medicaid. I got on my husband’s insurance but what good is that if it doesn’t cover much and tack on copays of everything meds, hospitalizations, hearing aids, treatments, labwork, x-rays and more. Anyway the only way as an adult child with total and permanent disability a IF they can qualify for SSDI is under your parents earning work credit BUT they have to also be receiving their SS now, be retired or be deceased. My parents are alive and both will be working for another 10 years at least in this economy. Again if I were blind I would have both. Now tell me please how is that right? Now should I get divorced then I would get the SSI (what is that a measly $674 a month now and in today’s time what the heck will that do?) and Medicaid (again what do they REALLY cover anymore for adults?) again, however not now because they base it on your spouse’s income and heaven forbid that person earns above the poverty line you are a SOL. Basically what they told me was to get divorced down at SS. For the record I spent the farm to go to college and earn two masters degrees, interned, volunteered, worked (for nothing!)my bum off, but that has not helped a single employer to take a single chance on me and anyone who is like me. We ARE underemployed and it is NOT by choice. We are NOT sitting around for a hand out here, but how the heck are we as a population going to survive if we can’t get hired and we don’t qualify for any financial or medical benefits?

October 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm
(18) Lee says:

Forgot to add re: don’t talk that has nothing to do with it. Sure you usually have to jump through fire to begin with getting anything from SS but A LOT of deaf DO talk, so that really is a small thing if it is anything to worry about.

Cochlear implants ahh my other “favorite” subject. When will idiots relaize one size doesn’t fit all. You don’t “hear’ people tlel psych patients hey take this pill and it will fix all your woes. No not one size, pill or idea works for all. I cannot have it done I am not a candidate due to my illness. And even if people do get it done it also is not surefire to work! And “caring” people think it is like Lasik where you suddenly regain your hearing so they tell you what you need to be going out and buying and have you checked the price tag on them even with insurance folks? And that the chance is 50-50 it will even work for you? Wake up World, um no cochlear recipients are still deaf.

As far as the poster who admits to being depressed. I feel for you been there had that now I am just p*ssed off. I am tired of seeing people struggle who should be. I am tird of being one of them.

October 31, 2008 at 9:12 pm
(19) webcatcher says:

I have had to have hearing aids since I was in 6th grade. I am now 47. I am realizing that on my job I am coming to a crossroad where my ability to communicate is severely causing problems with my ability to safely perform my position or possibly any position fo that matter. I talked to my family and they think that even though I have worked full time for most of my life that maybe I should consider applying for SSI. I am afraid they will turn me down. I feel fortunate that I have been able to accomplish in my life an incredible amount of love and happiness. I just feel I am like a safety hazard waiting to happen. I need to swallow some of my pride and tell someone the truth so that there is never an opportunity that I would hurt someone else or myself because I can’t admit how deaf I really am.

November 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm
(20) Heaterman says:

I am 44 and have profound hearing loss in both ears as well as severe tinnitus, it has been slowly getting worse and has reached the point that my job is starting to become very difficult. I communicate with co-workers and customers as part of my job(career for 20 years) hearing aids do not help and i have the latest and best versions available. I have STD and LTD from my employer but had hoped that SSI would be an option as well. what i am reading here tells me it may be a very long uphill battle. being a skilled tradesman all my life with no administrative experience will make it very difficult to find a job without hearing and communications capabilities. even fast food joints need people who can hear.

December 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm
(21) Capt Tripps says:

Well, I’m 26 years old, I lost my hearing gradually with complete loss 2 years ago. As I’d been hearing my whole life I had absolutely no way to communicate, and was eventually laid off from work (they actually called on my day off and told my gf to let me know they didn’t need me to come back in). I was fortunately able to apply for SSD, and quite honestly there was little to no hassle involved, I was approved quickly and received benefits starting the 6th month after I last worked. I think it’s a matter of the individual SS center your applying at, and the documentation behind your case. Try to gauge the attitude of the case worker, if your getting a bad vibe you may want to be prepared to need a lawyer to win your case.

December 13, 2008 at 4:53 pm
(22) CaptTripps says:

I should also say, I have a Cochlear Implant, which works extremely well for me, being so late deafened. If you lose your hearing after establishing speech and voice recognition, you should do much better with the CI than someone born deaf or who loses it as a child.

You will, however, still be deaf. Can’t wear it at all times, it’s battery operated and they do die, and environmental factors come into play. So in no way does it cure deafness, but it will help you cope.

January 28, 2009 at 1:52 pm
(23) Deaf Employee says:

Why do Deaf people need SSI? They can do everything but hear. They have legs and arms. Imagine this, if government stops giving money to Deaf people who are able to work but choose to be lazy and starts spending money on improving video relay service accesses everywhere, providing sign language interpreters immediately at the hospitals and airports, and providing workshops for those parents of Deaf children on how to develop language without sounds. If Deaf people lose their job or gets fired, apply for unemployment just like any other person. Stop whining and roll your sleeves up and WORK!!! If you need education in order to work, then go to school!

May 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm
(24) Rachel Payne says:

Wow – you really have no idea what you are talking about. Video relay service EVERYWHERE? Sign language interpreters for late deafened adults who never learned sign language? We late deafened adults are virtually cut off from the world and you think it’s just a matter of tolling our sleeves up? I have a masters degree and have been quite successful my whole life – but sudden deafness has changed everything. The ONLY way I know to communicate has been taken from me. Don’t try to get involved in a conversation in which you are completely ignorant.

June 9, 2011 at 11:43 am
(25) susanne b. says:

love your answer!!! same thing has happen to me..plus i have other health issues due to the sudden loss of hearing..

February 8, 2009 at 10:03 pm
(26) Rhino says:

Dear Deaf Employee,

You are sadly mistaken and I pray you never encounter the prejudice I have faced. Your pride will go before your fall. A deaf person can work hard and do a job just as good as the person next to them even better, but come crunch time and a company has to make a decision about who to let go bye bye deaf person. For 10 years I was doing the same job and then bam transferred, then let go, hey no problem my skill set will get me another job 200 applications and 50 interviews later, with slanted questions like “how will you answer the phone”, I am not applying for an operator position, but a technician. “How will you know when the test is done”, I’m deaf not blind the test flashes a light as well as rings a bell and the computer indicates finished. Well we’re sorry but it would be a safety hazard in our environment. One year later in a failing economy and no prospects in sight SSDI was approved but every year we kept trying to get a job, that was 15 years ago. Without SSDI we would have lost everything. So get off your high horse just because you have an employer who can look past your disablility. Yes that is right deafness in a hearing culture is a disablitity. Contrary to popular belief it does not make one lazy. My output was double that of my co-workers. God bless you.

February 8, 2009 at 10:11 pm
(27) Rhino says:

One additional comment, I applied for unemployment the benefit lasted 6 months during that period I was ineligible for the SSDI. I applied in my seventh month and on my 12th month received my first check with 5 months back pay. I provided them with proof of my profound deafness since birth, my limited speaking ability, and my desire to work through my job search history and rejection letters. The people at SSDI can be very compassionate when they see what a deaf person has to encounter no matter how skilled he or she is.

March 29, 2009 at 10:38 pm
(28) Abbie says:

I am 18 and deaf. I applied twice and was denied. SSI sent me to their pick of dr. and I went. I received a letter yesterday stating I was denied because if I wore a powerful enough hearing aid, I could communicate and get a job. I have a 120 db loss in left yr and 75 in the right.

April 3, 2009 at 6:51 pm
(29) barbara says:

It is very difficult for deaf individuals to get a job, no matter we try many times. I have been through many rejections from the employers because of my profound deafness. I was told that some employers had to check with the hearing staff if they would not mind to work with a deaf person before hiring me. When the objected, then I did not get a job…very upsetting…

May 9, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(30) Joan says:

My boyfriend has been disabled since 1988. He was on a motorcycle and was hit by a drunk driver.When they gave him a brain scan they saw a cyst on one side of his brain. As they were trying to take it out, he had a stroke,and he was in a coma for 17 days. When he was in the hospital he developed endocarditis around his heart. The antibiotic saved his life, but took 90% of his hearing. He also has a whole in his heart and has skin grafts on both legs from the accident. He wears a brace on his left leg. Now a year prior to this he was working in Florida at a motel and he saw a man stealing a phone. Of course he told the owner and they had the guy arrested. The thief told the police that my boyfriend gave him the key which was not true. The place was not locked to begin with. wEll anyway he was arrested too, but managed to get out on bond. While he was out, he got word his step father was dying and he was told he could leave the state and that was the last he heard about it until now. They suspended his payments until this is resolved 21 yrs later. We contacted Pinellas County, and they did agree not to pursue any further, and we are waiting for the papers from them. But in the meantime, he has gome without nothing. With his heart condition especially, I’m afraid something might happen to him. All this becsuse he decided to report a crime and he got into trouble also. Its getting to the point were we can’t trust the government any longer.

June 2, 2009 at 7:24 pm
(31) sammy111 says:

Wanted to comment to Joe, You hit the nail on the head with me. I have been at my company for 30 years and my hearing has diminished very badly. I have no hearing at all in my left ear and amd now profound in my right with tinnitus and sometimes balance problems.I have always been an upbeat person but now also suffer from depression because of not being able to understand or communicate effectively. I am going to apply for SSDI .My company had STD and LTD so I guess I will go on that first. I am not sure how it all works. I am 57 now so I don’t think I will have too hard a time, at least I hope not.

July 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm
(32) Mary says:

I have profound deafness in both ears..It happened over the last 15 years.. But The majority happened within a few weeks about 4 years ago..I was working in retail management..I started having problems with severe vertigo.It got so bad one day I couldn’t walk.. Called in sick.. all my hearing was gone within a few weeks after that..I was put on SSI right away and then the SSDI was approve six months later..I AM NOT LAZY!!! I miss working..I miss being able to communicate..I am learning sign language. But it doesn’t matter how well you know it.. most people do NOT know sign language..So I’m supposed to have an interpreter with me at ALL TIMES??? I mean I could go on and on and on with the problems I encounter everyday..Docs want me on anti depressiants.. I’m not depressed, I’m pissed off!!! At least I know I’m not the only one dealing with all this..

August 2, 2009 at 10:08 pm
(33) john says:

i cant see why deafness gets such a bad rap- from SS and people who dont think the deaf deserve disability income- sure they can work and hard as anybody, trouble is communication is non exsistant, deaf people are a work hazard to a degree,and lastly- employers fear even hiring them

September 22, 2009 at 5:01 pm
(34) Trista says:

Still trying to get SSI/SSDI, anything. It’s been a year and a half since I was laid off. I gave up on SS about 6 months since the first app (October 2008), the number for the SS office was constantly busy.
So I continued to job hunt, trying to find any work. After 800 applications and a couple intervews no one is hiring. Is it ADA or Econ?
So I decided to check on the pending app from SS, and they said.. Don’t have any record of it.
So we started a new app, the new Agent seems much nicer, documents arrived next day. A whole year delayed, because SS lost the file.

It’s not that I don’t want to work, I really want to. I’ve applied for every job you can think of, from Lowes, sears, old time pottery, food service, clerk, child care, driver. Just no one will hire.

September 28, 2009 at 3:32 am


February 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(36) danny lane says:

i applied for ssd in sept 09 have been drawing unemployment since sept 09 will drawing unemployment hurt me on my disabilty application?

February 28, 2010 at 11:53 pm
(37) Larry says:

My friends my heart bleeds for all of you. We are hearing challenged and society does not care.
I cannot find a job and soon will be on the street.

March 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm
(38) Kristy says:

You know what we all should be working on instead of having the SSA dole out money month after month? Work with business owners/managers and make them aware of deaf people’s ABILITIES and accomodations. As long people are afraid, nothing is going to change or improve deaf people’s job prospects.

I know several deaf people who have jobs or own their own businesses. I work for Walmart, and Walmart does have a rather decent rate of hiring disabled people. I did use to teach deaf and hard of hearing students, but I got laid off last year due to the program’s dwindling student population (and also due to the fact I have a bachelor’s degree–lots of cities and states are now mandating a master’s degree on top of a subject degree or two). I will be going back to grad school to finish my master’s.

I am deaf myself, and I have never applied for SSI. I never felt disabled enough to get it. My first job as a teen was working in a diner. During college, I had a summer job working as a teacher’s aide at a school for disabled students. I also worked in a campus cafeteria, then the campus library. After I was finished with my bachelor’s, I was a sub teacher at a deaf school for 2 1/2 years. During the last year of subbing, I was working at Walmart. It was hard living, but it had to be done since I had bills to pay and my sub teacher job offered no benefits (including health insurance). I moved back to NH and taught at a mainstream program for DHH students for 2 1/2 years. I kept my Walmart job as well. I was lucky I still retained my Walmart job when I got laid off from my teaching job. I completed the manager’s test, and I am in line for a department manager position.

To those who had late-onset hearing loss and whose primary responsibility was not the phone, there are accomodations for communication! Interpreters for meetings, write notes back and forth, have someone type on a laptop (aka CART) so you can read what a client is saying, internet relay, etc etc etc. Or, change positions within the company.

I don’t understand why parents of a deaf child would apply for SSI if they themselves are already supporting their families. Deafness alone is not expensive. Support aids like hearing aids or cochlear implants should have been covered by insurance or Medicare in the first place. Single parents made the choice to be single parents and they should not be relying on a child’s SSI income as a subtle form of welfare.

For the people moaning how hard it is to get benefits, it shouldn’t be easy to get them. If they were easy to get, then our SS funds would have been bankrupt years ago. SS was set up to take care of the retirees then eventually was expanded to take care of widows, orphans, disabled, etc. Don’t forget the money that was paid into the system does not increase in value with the inflation.

For people saying the payment amounts are not enough, these are not designed to be equivalant to a real salary. Otherwise, a lot more people would be applying instead of working! Plus, there are ways to make it work (i.e. have a spouse get a job, get a roommate, live in a smaller place, move to a cheaper town, don’t have 3rd/4th/5th child, etc).

Speaking of additional children, you are lucky you can get extra money per child just because you yourself are receiving SS benefits. The SSA really doesn’t have to do that; there’s the child credit on tax returns already.

Also, instead of sending deaf people monthly checks, what about giving them jobs? Post offices, clerks, print shops, accountants, teacher’s aides, and so on. Medium and large companies can very easily assign someone else to handle the phone.

Like I said before, business owners need to be made aware of deaf people’s abilities and what accomodations can be used. After all, a lot of tax money is being used to support thousands, if not millions, of deaf people. They may as well just hire them instead of spending all that tax money :P

September 25, 2011 at 7:55 am
(39) Cheryl Myers says:

Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aids and certainly doesn’t pay for the child’s health insurance, as they aren’t eligible for Medicare. What should happen or what could happen are different than what the circumstances are.

Employers are afraid of lawsuits, discrimination, etc. Many do not want to touch a potential employee’s application with a ten foot pole. You can only collect unemployment for so long before that runs out. Then, because of the excessive unemployment barrier of being deaf, taxpayers will need to pay for something anyway to support those left on the street from no available work for them.

Oh, and the CART system. That is another thing employers are intimidated by, which also costs the employers money, time and aggravation.

Being deaf takes away a lot from a person, not just from work. Deaf people have a problem with hearing, communication, and socialization, they don’t have a “lazy” problem.

March 8, 2010 at 7:26 pm
(40) Kristy says:

Oh and job hazards? Please. Most jobs are not dangerous. Even if a job is dangerous, the deaf employee knows and accepts the risks. There are deaf truckers, deaf EMTs, deaf firefighters, deaf professional wrestlers, deaf stunt doubles, etc.

As for the every day “hazards” at an ordinary job, all is needed are accomodations, extra caution for certain tasks, etc. The people at my Walmart job all learned that I am deaf and know to approach more carefully when pulling heavy pallets through the back room (and I am quicker on my feet, hah!).

March 9, 2010 at 9:16 am
(41) Sly says:

Kristy, you make some good points, but I feel you’re unrealistic about some things. I have to come back and respond in full, but PLEASE tell me where there are deaf firefighters and EMTs, because I certainly have never seen them. If you are deaf, there are SOME limits, as you must know. A deaf person cannot be a pilot, I’m sorry. Let’s be real here.

By the way, I was born profoundly deaf. Well, probably hard of hearing, then it progressed to profound deafness around the time I was in grade school.

March 9, 2010 at 10:05 am
(42) Rox says:

Kristy… Judgemental much? You do realize how lucky you are to have a BA, right? I think I read somewhere that only 40% of all deaf people have a high school diploma. If I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

I agree that we should work on educating businesses on hiring deaf people, but at this point, there are SO many small businesses out there and right here, right now, deaf people need money to live. After I got my BA, I sent out over 200 (yes, two HUNDRED) applications before I got a job. Some of them even blatantly told me that I wasn’t being hired because I’m deaf. It’s extremely frustrating, especially when I had no difficulty getting jobs all through high school and college. I had started a business that was very successful, but I sold it because I just didn’t enjoy the work. It wasn’t the right kind of job for me, and I wanted to make use of my BA. I worked as a substitute teacher but was only called in two or three days per month. During this time, SSI was what enabled me to eat and pay rent. My parents lived in the boonies across the country, so if I moved there, my job prospects would be extremely limited. I also injured my shoulder. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if I didn’t have medicare.

Many parents are on welfare for their deaf children just so that they have a little extra help. There are many costs involved with raising a special needs child, and if the family is already poor, this makes it worse. Some families have to drive far to get to an audiologist. Some deaf children have to go to a school that is farther away. Sometimes a family doesn’t even have a car, so they have to take the bus and a whole day off from work to bring their child for an assessment or appointment. Sometimes hearing aids/cochlear implants aren’t covered by insurance. Parents have to make extra trips to school for IEP meetings, etc. TTYs, vibrating alarm clocks, and other assistive devices aren’t cheap. I think it’s very fair that they receive a payment for something that other parents don’t have to deal with.

Do you have a job that you can offer to deaf people to help them become employed? Are you doing anything to help businesses become more aware of deaf people’s abilities and accommodations? Are you hiring deaf people to work at your own business? If not, then shut up and keep your judgemental comments to yourself.

March 9, 2010 at 9:42 pm
(43) Rox says:

Sly, google Deaf Pilots Association. Deaf people CAN become pilots, firefighters, and EMTs, but the opportunities are limited.

March 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm
(44) Rob says:

In my years of job-hunting with several companies, as a deaf man of considerable skills and experiences, I have come to conclude that, regardless of the economy or ADA, the deaf/HoH is almost always on the bottom of the hireable totem pole. At the very top of the hireable totem pole is hearing, able-bodied men. Second below is women. Third is black, Latino, Asian, etc. The first three are all hearing, able-bodied peoples. Below them are hearing people who are disabled (wheelchair, veterans, etc.). Further below is the able-bodied hard-of-hearing who can talk, then below is the able-bodied deaf who can either sign or talk (or can do both). Rank further below are people who are blind, deaf-blind, morbidly obese persons, severely disabled people on motorized chairs, people who are mentally-retarded or developmentally-challenged, etc. etc. Would employers in general hire them to work? Generally no. This is simply a brutal reality and that’s the fact.

However, there are well-meaning employers out there willing to hire deaf people but they are in a minority and hard to find (not counting Walmart, big warehouse employers, big companies, etc.). Attitude, perception, ignorance, and concern about communication are common issues with employers regarding deaf people. Out of many applications and resumes employers get from people on a hourly/daily basis, most do not know if few or some among the applicants are deaf/Hoh, and would not find out until employers initiate contact with them, then learn of a fact of deafness. Employers may hesitate after the fact.

I know one very talented deaf artist who sent samples of his comic book arts to Marvel and DC, along with his resume. When they learned of his deafness (he prefers ASL and communicate over VP), neither company expressed any interest in him. He tried again every year, hoping for a break in the industry, neither Marvel nor DC ever return his correspondences. He tried smaller comic book companies but nothing so far. It was very disheartening to see a talented comic book deaf artist not getting the opportunity to break into the field and work with the pros. He told me he’s keeping hope and being optimistic despite the difficulties. It’s good to know that he’s not giving up his big dream.

There are a lot of intelligent deaf people out there, trying to break into other fields of work (beside the traditional warehouse job, Walmart, fast-food service, deaf-run companies, federal/state government), thanks to the availability of accessible and communicative technologies. But employers are not likely to hire them, no matter how impressive their skills and backgrounds they have or how well they presented themselves in the interviews. Employers are more interesting in protecting and sustaining their bottom line, without throwing more money to accommodate people with disabilities on a daily basis (long term cost-benefit reasons). Especially in this period of the “great” recession.

Employers, in general, need to change their attitudes toward people who are deaf/HOH and take their chances by employing them and see how that will work out anyway.

May 2, 2010 at 5:26 am

Personally I have been both HOH and deaf and have talked with reasonable clarity most of my life until my last child was born in mid thirties. Then within months my hearing what was left of it that is from otosclerosis disappeared. What an utter shock to me as a working person in the medical feild for years working my way from a feild paramedic could not even get a job in a hospital emptying a friggen bed pan as a cna because I could not hear a pulse? I asked with all the tech around why would I need to we don’t even use a bp cugh without a machine to do it with any how? Who uses a stethescope for a Bp in a hospital setting? They are all machines. Plug and run. All that schooling and bam done for. I struggle with discrimination at work as a wal mart cashier. Customers hassle me because i didn’t get it or ram me for not speaking good english. Hah! I got accused of being a “mexican” like that is a crime because my speach after my stroke left me slurring my words rather badly after a while of trying to talk “normal” like I know what that is after 15 years of being stone deaf. Now even my speach is hampered from facial paralysis and reading this and typing a comment requires a magnifyer and finding the whole right side of the computer screen because half of my visual feild is missing in action. Deafness can at times kill us just walking to front of a store from a parking lot! Shoot the police that witnessed my near accident with a car backing out of a lot at the store told me to go to dmv and get a handicap plate and to park in the front row before I get hit and was willing to help me get it from dmv. We can and should do all that we can for ourselves that includes self maintenance however when even that effort fails because of bigotry and denial on the part of hearing people then support maintenence is more then justified. We have laws that say discrimination based on handicap is against the law but how do you prove that they aren’t? and if they don’t want enforce it and you need to live without being on the street and no one will hire you don’t friggen starve and live under the bridge. you get paid either by paycheck if they are willing to hire you or by ssd or welfare if they aren’t. Really it is up to the hearing people, Either they give us a chance and let us work.. or we will get it from their taxes. I will not die starving to death because they don’t want me working for fear I will upset their lives by having to repeat what they said, a time or two or three. The buck stops at the hearing mans door. I am the only deaf worker in my store at walmart. And just a cashier at that. Probably the only one that has a Nursing degree no less. Funny how that mess works out when I am passed up for promotions for managment. You might have guessed I am a loley not so able bodied white female also.. My badI can’t get ssa to see that, nor welfare, or ssi, or ssdi.. or anything else in the alphabet in the way of help. But for all the years and knowlege I have some young punk kid can become a customer service manager in less then six months of employment and he can’t even fix a stupid POS machine malfunction. I could scream but the hearing people are to deaf to notice.

August 17, 2010 at 1:04 pm
(46) suesee18 says:

I have been profoundly deaf my whole life, and recently have been diagnosed as “essentially deaf”. I have tried for 6 years to get SSDI. I also have Meniere’s Disease and depression. I’ve been turned down every single time I’ve tried. I worked (WORKED people!!) 16 years at the same place as an office manager before my Meniere’s and depression symptoms got me fired. And now, I cannot find work at all. Employers don’t want to hire someone who cannot understand what is being said 100% of the time, or who has balance problems (they think you are drunk, despite the fact you never drink), or have days where you cannot work due to drop attacks and nausea from the vertigo. So what to do?? I’ve spent the past 4 years living off others, something that goes against every fiber of my being. Its either that, or live on the streets.

So when someone, deaf or hearing, assumes, announces, or suggests i’m LAZY for wanting to try to get SSDI, I get a little crazy. How DARE anyone, able or not, judge ME on how I am?? I worked hard all my adult life, sometimes 3 jobs at a time, and at one time 2 full time jobs at once…and now I’m lazy?? I’d love to see YOU try to get a job, or keep one, when dealing with what I deal with. Now I also have an auto immune issue that prevents me from getting a CI, which I wasn’t too happy to try for anyway, and that just adds to the mix.

So if you’re deaf and working, good for you…and good luck keeping that job. In the meantime, don’t come on a forum and tell others who are struggling to find a job, keep a job, or breaking down entirely and going the worst route of getting SSDI that they are lazy.

PS In case you wonder, I have alot of skills, have a degree in Accounting and secretarial, but cannot use them anymore. So I’m not stupid either. Maybe you should go back to school yourself and take a class on being human…you probably work for the SSA…I’ve seen alot of your type there.

September 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm
(47) Damian Canton says:

I have all my High School credits. I have taken six times, can’t pass the language portion of the Georgia High School Graduation Test, therefore I cannot get a High school Diploma. I ask for a weaver and was told deafness does not qualify, it’s not a learning disability. SSI was also discontinued for me since I was no longer deaf enough. I graduated from High School, no Diploma and cannot go to college or find a job. It’s really difficult….

October 15, 2010 at 2:38 am
(48) YUVRAJ says:


October 21, 2010 at 7:21 pm
(49) Janis says:

My daughter’s a Paramedic and says she has never encountered a deaf paramedic and hopes she never has to. I’m deaf, so she is not saying this because she has a thing against deaf people. She said when she arrives at many crash scenes it is choatic….people shouting from all directions, gestering, pointing, people out of control….it’s hard enough when you can hear what is being shouted as opposed to screams, or movements with or without sounds to guide you….hearing is so important. She entered one home where a woman was hysterical and the only reason she knew to go into the bedroom was because of the screams she heard coming from an 18 month old child who had been sexually assulted by her dad.
As for SSI and SSDI, I was denied both because ‘though she is unable to understand speech without hearing aids, with hearing aids she is able to understand speech and communicate most of the time.’
I don’t have enough money to buy hearing aids and SSI/SSDI sure isn’t offering to buy me any so where does that leave me? Disabled.

October 22, 2010 at 12:07 am
(50) Nathan Russell says:

I am profoundly daef and suffer svere paim from bing disabled. My wife is menataaly ill and disababled. I worked 52 yeras. My deafness and disabilities are severe. My doctors have discriminate againsed me. The kudge denied disability and am in appeals with a new appeal. I am not going to be able the survive. How can mt disabled wife survive when I am gone? I do have a life insurane pplicy but only 100 grand. She says she doesn;’t want another man to love and care for her. We can’r survive living homeless with our illnesses. I should have had a fair hearing but according t my attorney. I can work with help from my wife helping me get ready for work although I won’t be able to keep the job for i sm so sick. I managed a trucking company for 20 years. I have many skills. But with the deaf ness and disabilities I will get laid off within a week or 2. I am in appeals. I am going to try panhandling but being so disabled I think it will be too much for me to do. Is it time for me to die? I can’t get help from a church, not one job I applied for has offererd me an interview. I have been ont of wort from Feb 2007 and must file bankruptcy witha 30 grand debt. I can’t pay rent in December. Should I die and my wife at least have some money to survive and try her luck that way? I don ‘t see an answer for my survival. i have tried every government oranization fro the lowest level all the way to the White House. I never ever got one reply. and suggestions.
Thank You for your time.
Nathan Russell

October 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm
(51) Janis says:

Mr Russell,
I am so sorry to hear about your plight.
Please don’t give up. Keep calling places and tell them your situation.
If you are 65 there are many organizations that help the disabled who are elderly….or just having trouble making ends meet financially.
Please take care

October 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm
(52) Karen says:

I am 52 yrs. old and work in a dental office [28yrs.] so I still have a while before retirement. Right now just limping along with my hearing, even with hearing aids in both ears. Have had surgeries but due to chronic infection nothing last long. Was told today by doctor to “just try to get the most use out of hearing aids I can” whatever that means! I don’t think even my doctor understands. I’m just filling in the blanks at work.. sometimes I’m right …sometimes I’m wrong. I’m very concerned about my future. There doesn’t seem to be very many resources out there for people my age.

November 15, 2010 at 1:30 pm
(53) Clara says:

I am 55 and profoundly deaf since early childhood. I do speak and lipread, and mainstreamed my way to a graduate degree. I have never been able to get full employment anywhere, within my educational expertise or otherwise. I got SSDI when I got divorced, probably because I also had an autoimmune disorder, and because I kept the paperwork from the 75 places to which I applied for a job during that time and received rejections or no responses. I have been self-employed, attempting to build my own businesses but none of them have made enough for me to live on without SSDI (I have kept very meticulous books and tax records). I have tried to apply for jobs on and off through the years, especially for things which wouldn’t require me to use the telephone or deal with a lot of people talking. But it is always the same: if you can’t use the phone, they don’t want you around, they don’t want to deal. Now I am much sicker but must still find work, as my monthly SSDI is barely enough for 5 days. I am trying to find work online. I’ve made the money from my divorce settlement and help from my parents last twenty years, but now it has almost run out and like Mr. Russell I am not sure what options I have left. The world is a very unkind place even to those who have worked hard and kept trying. So yes, I am discouraged, very discouraged. If I was a hearing person I would have been facing a rather nice retirement and probably not as sick because my life would have been a lot less stressful. Now I am just sad and scared.

November 16, 2010 at 10:59 pm
(54) LearningASL says:

Clara, Karen, Mr. Russell and ALL others who are discouraged:

Please hang in there. You’ve come this far despite all of the adversities you’ve encountered and continue to encounter. You are survivors. You never know what may turn up for you when you least expect it.

Also, whether one works or not is irrelevant; many people have jobs but are lazy. Having a job does NOT prove character. At my last job, I worked so hard but still had to do a lazy co worker’s job too (he was hearing, proving laziness has NOTHING to do with hearing loss, disability or whether one gets social security or welfare, etc.)

But, very soon, I hope that there will be a positive change in your situation.

Please, let us all know how you are doing now. Best regards to all. God bless.

November 16, 2010 at 11:06 pm
(55) LearningASL says:

I know what a lot of you feel like. Years ago, during a high unemployment, I lost my job (I left for safety reasons relating to being physically assaulted by a lazy coworker when nothing was done to him; I stayed as long as I could until he laughed and threatened more attacks).

That was not fair to me and I know I deserved better.

I could not find work like many of you; I know what you all mean about looking and trying so hard. One day, I didn’t know what else to do or where to turn, searching for work and/or looking for a temporary source of income in the meantime to no avail. But a couple good things happened by the end of that day to give me hope:
1. I saw a former neighbor; he told me he couldn’t find work (he was hearing). He suggested that I apply for welfare; that was sustaining him/his family. I immediately went there on a Friday afternoon; they told me to come back on Monday.
2. When I got home, I had received a letter from social security. They informed me that someone had won a class action lawsuit and that I may qualify for benefits now, even if denied in the past. That gave me hope that carried me that weekend.

On Monday, instead of welfare, I went to Social Security with their letter. I had to do the paperwork, go through the process and I had to wait to get the benefits, BUT it gave me hope to hang on a little longer, day by day. Trust me, I was hanging by a thread, moment by moment. At that point, I could no longer afford bus fare to look for work. My mom was a big help and sacrificed a lot to help me out. God bless her.

For me, the ironic thing here is that SSDI was then and continues to be my lifeline, yet, it appears that some of you maybe unfairly denied. I think it might also have to do with SOME workers you’ve encountered: i.e. some workers (anywhere) are professional and courteous while others contribute to the problem with ineptness and rudeness.

I wish you all the best…..

November 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm
(56) mona says:

i was late deaf in my early 20′s i have worked thru it for 30 years – my latest job was terminated due to going for more”technology” and faster turnover-i am 54 years old, and i have been applying for every job possible, anything i can, and seems every time i interview which hasnt been much, ppl see my cochlear and make their decision right then and there, i know it. today i talked to a woman wanting someone to watch her kids and i would be sooo good but havent heard from her=got hired at macys for seasonal holiday retail and have worked a total of 12 hours in a month!!! ppl dont have patience to do the special things (get your attention, make sure you look at them,) i am soooo frustrated not even funny!!! i believe i deserve SS benefits i have never ever asked for help before and i have paid into it forever-seems just no luck in finding a permanent job-i dont tell them about hearing issues and today i thought i would be brave and just go with it and i don’t know-thought i was great with the kids and the little girl went right to me and let me hold her-i am very much a ppl person, but have so many limits. just dont know what to do anymore. just keep applying for jobs and maybe someone will have patience enough to del with me.

January 10, 2011 at 11:46 am
(57) mary jane says:


May 20, 2011 at 7:35 am
(58) BQ says:

You should be. Go to SSI/SSDI office and have a sitting interview with them. Let them know your communication needs so that they can provide that for you.

January 24, 2011 at 10:48 am
(59) Sharon says:

My 17 year old son is bi-laterly profoundly deaf. He was diagnosed at age 2 1/2. He had the cochlear implant surgery at age 3. He doesnt like to wear, and never has. From K-8th grade he went to a regular public elementary/junior high, and was placed in a D/HH class. For high school we decided that a deaf school would better suit him. We have tried though out the years to try to get him SSI, and every time been turned down, due to my husbands income, from work. Now that my son will be turning 18, we are once again gonna try with SSI. We live in a very small community, where jobs are very scarce. My son doesn’t talk, and won’t even consider learning how to drive a car. I ask him all the time, if he wants to learn. He says he’s scared, because he can’t hear. Now we know someone who has adopted her grand daughter, they own several properties, but yet she get SSI for her. I don’t understand it…We want our son to be self sufficient, and to be able to work a normal job. SSI isnt, what I wanted for my son. But for now we might not have another choice. Our sons school is 2 hours from our house. Our dream is that our son gets to live down there as an adult, there are many deaf people in that community. But without an income of sort, whats gonna happen. I hope there is a job for him eventually….

January 26, 2011 at 8:27 pm
(60) jill says:

My daughter has a cochlear implant (which for her works extremley well) still recieves ssi.

March 6, 2011 at 8:48 am
(61) Christy says:

I am 30 years old and have had a hearing problem since childhood. I have three elementary kids and i find my hearing disabilty to greatly affect my relationship with them, this is what is most hurtful to me. Over the years it has gotten worse, i have gotten in the habbit of just answering yes or no when i really didnt understand the question. And later i am punishing them for doing something that I in fact said they could do! I cant keep up conversations with family because i get lost when i didnt here something that was said but i didnt herar it! My family and i laugh about this but it really hurts. I guess i laugh through the pain. My husband and i argue because he might ask me to pick up something while im out or pay a bill and it dosent get done because i couldnt hear him. I have applied for SSI and am still waiting but it dosent look promising. If any of you have any advice on how to better my hearing or a tip that might help with my disability claim i would be very greatful! Thanks

May 20, 2011 at 7:31 am
(62) BQ says:

Are you looking for help for your claim or communication with your family?

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