Social Security Administration Seeks Input on Vestibular Criteria

Posted by Cynthia Ryan

SSA proposes changes to criteria for evaluating hearing loss, disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function.

The SSA is requesting comments on whether and how it should revise the criteria in its Listing of Impairments (listings) for evaluating hearing loss and disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function in adults and children.

The SSA is inviting comments and suggestions from individuals who apply for or receive benefits from the agency; advocates and organizations that represent individuals who have hearing disorders or disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function, state agencies that make disability determinations for the SSA, experts in the evaluation of hearing disorders, researchers, and other members of the general public.

The agency is interested in any comments and suggestions on how it might revise introductory text §§2.00B and 102.00B, listing §2.07 for evaluating disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function, and listings §§2.10, 2.11, 102.10, and 102.11 for evaluating hearing loss.

For example:

  • Do the rules for evaluating hearing loss or disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function contain technical language or jargon that is not clearly explained? If not clearly explained, what technical language or jargon needs further explanation?
  • Are the requirements for otological examinations and audiometric testing provided in §§2.00B and 102.00B clearly stated? If not clearly stated, what requirements need further clarification?
  • What types of testing should the agency consider when evaluating hearing loss in adults or children who cannot cooperate in behavioral testing?
  • Would it be helpful to add a sample audiogram that contains all the requirements necessary for evaluation of hearing loss in adults or children?
  • What word recognition tests other than the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) or the Hearing in Noise Test-Children (HINT-C) should the agency consider when it evaluates hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation?
  • Should the SSA provide examples of medical reasons for a discrepancy between the speech reception threshold and the pure tone average?
  • Could the SSA improve clarity by replacing the phrase “disturbances in labyrinthine-vestibular function” with the phrase “disturbances of inner ear function”?
  • Rather than evaluating disturbances in labyrinthine-vestibular function in adults under the listings, would evaluating disturbances in labyrinthine-vestibular function using residual functional capacity improve the determination process?
  • Should the SSA continue to evaluate disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function under the Special Senses and Speech body system?
  • What else could the SSA do to make the rules for evaluating hearing or disturbances in labyrinthine-vestibular function easier to understand?
  • Would a different format make the rules easier to understand (for example, changing the grouping or ordering of sections; use of headings; paragraphing; use of diagrams; use of tables)?
  • Experts who study disability believe that many personal, environmental, educational, and social factors contribute in significant ways to the relationship between an individual's hearing ability and the ability to work. Rather than providing criteria for evaluating hearing loss in adults under the listings, should the SSA evaluate all hearing loss using re53700?

Comments are due by October 29, 2013, and may be submitted by Internet, fax or mail to one of the addresses listed in the notice. The docket number is SSA-2012-0075.

For further information, contact Cheryl A. Williams, Office of Medical Listings Improvement, SSA, 6401 Security Blvd., Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, (410) 965-1020 (78 Fed. Reg. 53700, August 30, 2013).

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