Tinnitus Support Group

Tinnitus, "ringing ears" or ear noise, is a phenomenon of the nervous system connected to the ear, characterised by perception of a ringing, beating or roaring sound with no external source. Tinnitus can be objective (perceived by a clinician) or subjective (perceived only by the patient).

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Is Tinnitus a disability?

I know the military considers tinnitus to be a 10% disability for veterans but what about the rest of us? Is tinnitus considered a disability? Do we have any protections or rights? What if we need a masker or are using a Neuromonics system at work and our employer wont allow it?

I'm going to a disability conference next week and I hope there is someone there that might have answers.

Replies

deleted_user
deleted_user

I'v been asking myself that same thing the last couple of months, can't find anything on the net about it. Let us know what you find out.
BobsDream
BobsDream

I really want to know. I don't know about the rest of you but my work productivity goes in the toilet on a bad day. Sometimes I just need a noise break or some headphones or sometimes I need some drugs which make me drowsy. I need to be a critical thinker in my job and since T I haven't been able to do a good job.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I certainly feel like my productivity and quality of work has dropped, but I don't know if it's considered a disability. I have an office job and I need to focus and concentrate. It can be really hard to sit in a fairly quite office, and even worse to be in meeting rooms.

Luckily for me, I can sometimes work from home. At home I can have music on louder etc. which helps.

My doctor did talk about possible doing a medical leave for up to 12 weeks (I think it was). I don't remember the details on how that works.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I've heard of people in companies that got early retirement due to tinnitus. As for social security disability it is a long uphill battle. The word isn't even in their manual as a disorder. From what I have read you will have to have at least a long established psychiatric record of distress, depression and anxiety that is exacerbated by tinnitus to prove your claim. More than likely it will be denied and you will have to go through the appeals process, but that depends on the examiner and your medical records. I have heard of at least one person who did win their case.

For the first few years I thought I would not work again. Now that I am back in the workplace I realize that I can still be productive with this condition, thankfully. Distraction and being productive is the key. Sitting idle at home is not for me.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I think it can be depending more on the personality type than the severity of the tinnitus but fighting the gov for disability for tinnitus would likely be worse than tinnitus itself. I adapted with time as others mentioned above. I'd keep working, keep busy, keep moving forward and forget disability; just my two cents.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I was a rural mail carrier for the Postal Service and in late 2005 filed the paperwork for disability retirement. I needed a statement from my doctor and postmaster. The paperwork part was not that bad. I got a letter on Feb 6th of 2006 saying my request was approved. So I have been on disability retirement since Feb 6th.
deleted_user
deleted_user

I was able to get a workers comp. award for noise related hearing loss. Tinnitus is related to this condition and is therefore covered under the award. I was able to get reimbursed for Neuromonics.
deleted_user
deleted_user

Bob if you have the type of instruments I wear - I don't know if you have any hearing impairment - you will be able to work just fine with white noise being piped into your ears and no one else will know - and it will not interfere with the telephone or your work and they will not even know if you let your hair grow out to cover them - but they look just like hearing aids - you control volume, etc. and they do not block your ability to hear - now if you have a hearing impairment and you wear the maskers - you will be at a greater disadvantage - you can compensate for that. I outline what I went through in my public journal - I think you have a great chance at responding to Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and work will be more bearable.
BobsDream
BobsDream

This was written 14 years ago in an article posted on the American Tinnitus Association website. 14 years is a long time so it would be interesting to know if there have been any changes.

"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA is designed to ensure non-discriminatory hiring practices for disabled people, and to protect
and provide for the needs of disabled workers while they are on the job. (The injury need not have occurred in
the workplace.) A person with tinnitus can, for instance, petition his or her employer to accommodate a need for
a quiet work place or a less stressful job if the present work environment contributes to a worsening of the
disability. As of July 1994, employers with 15 or more employees are required to make "reasonable
accommodations" for their disabled workers.
The width and breadth of this five-year-old law are being tested on a case by case (and disability by
disability) basis. According to the Bureau of National Affairs, no case mentioning tinnitus as a primary
complaint has yet gone to court under this law. Although no current precedent under the ADA exists that
recognizes tinnitus as a disability, its omission suggests the possibility that no one has had to pursue a lawsuit
because of an employers failure to accommodate for it."
BobsDream
BobsDream

This is the important part. Again this is 14 years old.

"no current precedent under the ADA exists that recognizes tinnitus as a disability"
shirleyms
shirleyms

I think tinnitus is a real disability for some. Some handle it and some don't. For me, it was a real disability.
deleted_user
deleted_user

One lady on this board got approved for disability - if she reads this thread - she can give you personal info- it was a nice lady - she used to be here all the time- does anyone remember her?
deleted_user
deleted_user

I have a service related disability for T at 10%. The VA disability services told me that congress isn't likely to change the 10% max. I was advised to pursue a claim for the complications arising from T. According to the Mayo clinic these are as follows:

Complications
By Mayo Clinic staff

Tinnitus can significantly affect quality of life. Although it affects people differently, if you have tinnitus, you also may experience:
Fatigue
Stress
Sleep problems
Trouble concentrating
Memory problems
Depression
Anxiety and irritability
Treating these linked conditions may not affect tinnitus directly, but it can help you feel better.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tinnitus/DS00365/DSECTION=complications

I have an appointment with mental health and audiology on Nov 15th, If that goes OK I will pursue a claim. I'll keep everyone updated.
loyr
loyr

Hi everyone, I wanted to let you all know that yes I did get Social Security Disability Pmts. It was a hard road to go on. I filled out their paperwork, went to there doctor which he wrote a report saying I was a liar and he just knew me for 20 min. I was very upset about that and I still am. Im pretty sure he knows nothing about Tinnitus. I was denied by the S.S twice , I got a lawyer and I had to fight it before a judge. He did not take the statement of the S.S. doctor b/c all of my other proof made him look like a liar!!!!!! Erxie is correct about the Tinnitis there was no mention of it on the papers of approval just the bad effects the tinnitus makes you have. fatigue, stress, insomnia etc...I was going to see doctors, pschocoligist at the time and had all there notes. Hopes this helps some any ques, just let me know.
I still continue to fight the battle of Tinnitus but I am coping the best I can with it. I hope you all well!!!!
deleted_user
deleted_user

Loyr - do you have any psych diagnoses? just curious because that might have bolstered your case.

I am so sorry your suffering is that intense? Hey, do you have the tea kettle tinnitus? Hypercusis? Hypercusis could send anyone into retirement.

Hearing loss? you are a real fighter - and the SS doc just says "liar" - he could just say someone could work with tinnitus - but just sit there and say, "liar"

Hey could you imagine if he woke up to tinnitus? Even for a few months of it - how many people would he mock and call liars then?