Do You Have A Case?

Tinnitus is generally classified as a ringing or buzzing noise in one or both ears. The sound may be constant or come and go. It is often associated with hearing loss and can be a warning sign of more serious hearing loss to come if you don’t protect your ears. While some people think that Tinnitus is just a ringing noise, it is a debilitating audiological and neurological condition.

Is Tinnitus a Disability?

Tinnitus can be a disability. It can incapacitate you, and make it difficult or even impossible to work. While there are treatment and therapy options, tinnitus can still be quite debilitating. The severity of your symptoms and their impact on your ability to work can determine whether or not you qualify for long-term disability.

What are the Types of Tinnitus?

There are 4 different types of Tinnitus. Your doctor will be able to determine which form of tinnitus you have upon diagnosis. Because tinnitus manifests as different sounds for people, it makes sense that there are different classifications. The type you are diagnosed with can also be a factor in determining if you have a disability. The 4 types are Subjective, Neurological, Somatic, and Objective.

Subjective Tinnitus is the most common form. This form of tinnitus can appear and disappear suddenly. Generally, these symptoms may last 3-12 months at a time. However, if the case is severe enough, the symptoms may never stop.

Neurological Tinnitus is often caused by another condition, such as Meniere’s disease. Conditions that affect the brain’s auditory functions can cause this type.

Somatic Tinnitus is related to your sensory system. This condition may worsen along with other issues related to the sensory system.

Objective Tinnitus is a rare form of this condition. It is generally caused by vascular deformation or involuntary muscle contractions. With the proper treatment, it will usually stop affecting the individual. It is the only form of tinnitus that an outside observer can hear. Additionally, it is the only form of tinnitus with a permanent fix.

Man holding his ear in pain - Tinnitus concept

What Causes Tinnitus?

Generally, damage to your auditory system can be a primary cause of this condition. However, the cause of one’s tinnitus can be uncertain in some cases. Your doctor may look at other factors if auditory damage is not present. The other possible causes can include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic neck muscle strain
  • Exposure to excessive noise
  • Jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ)
  • Some medications
  • A tumor creating strain on the arteries in the head/neck
  • Wax buildup

Common Symptoms of Tinnitus

Symptoms of tinnitus can be severe enough to be disabling. This condition can affect your ability to concentrate and follow conversations. Additionally, it can lead to poor memory, cause poor sleep, and lead to extreme fatigue. Lastly, it can be linked to depression and anxiety. Symptoms for this condition are generally divided into Physical and Cognitive symptoms.

Physical Symptoms

Physical Symptoms of tinnitus include:

  • Ringing, buzzing, clicking, or hissing noises in the ears
  • Hearing loss of certain pitches (high and/or low)
  • Hearing loss/impairment
  • Vertigo
  • Throat and nose pain

Demonstrating objective evidence that you are experiencing these symptoms can be difficult, but it is key to building your disability claim. Thankfully, some tests can help substantiate your diagnosis. Audiological exams, facial/movement tests, and imaging tests can help objectify your symptoms.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are generally secondary to your tinnitus and are an effect of your condition. They can also be documented to help support your claim. Some people living with tinnitus may experience:

When these symptoms are compounding your condition, they can make it more difficult to work effectively. Documenting these symptoms can be an important addition to your long-term disability case.

Can I Get Long-Term Disability Benefits for Tinnitus?

If you are suffering from severe tinnitus, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Depending on the severity of your condition, as well as the type you have, you may be eligible for short-term or long-term disability. Reduced hearing can affect your ability to communicate with coworkers and clients alike. The constant ringing and buzzing you experience can affect your concentration negatively. Your limited hearing can also pose a further threat to your safety in the workplace. Many people living with this condition report a loss in productivity and accuracy in the workplace.

Hearing Loss and Disability Claims

In most cases of Tinnitus claims, it is easy for the insurance company to focus on your hearing loss as the main issue you are facing. However, insurance companies will attempt to downplay the effect of your hearing loss, or try to claim it isn’t as severe. This is an unfortunately common occurrence in tinnitus disability cases. And while your hearing loss can be a truly disabling factor to your condition, it is often not the most impactful on your ability to work. Rather, the cognitive impairments are.

Cognitive Impairments and Your Disability Claim

Cognitive impairments can be the cornerstone of developing your disability claim. While your condition does affect your ability to hear, cognitive impairments can be quite disabling. Tinnitus can affect your ability to concentrate, focus, sleep, or communicate effectively with others. As a result, your ability to work can be negatively impacted. Cognitive impairments can also make the workplace less safe, as it may be harder to avoid unsafe conditions when your head isn’t clear.

In some cases, depression and anxiety brought on by living with your condition can be disabling factors. Be sure to properly record any cognitive impairments you are experiencing as a result of your tinnitus. Mention them to your doctor as well, so that there is a medical record of what you are experiencing. Many people have no trouble discussing physical ailments with their doctors, but will often overlook mental, emotional, and cognitive strain. It is important to mention these when discussing your condition with your doctor. This way, there is a detailed record of your symptoms. Having medical records that better reflect the extent of your condition will help you create a stronger case.

Getting Approval for Tinnitus Disability Benefits

Insurance companies will almost always focus on your hearing loss as the primary aspect of your condition. They do this because it helps them downplay the more disabling aspects of your condition, namely, the cognitive impairments. An experienced long-term disability attorney will help you highlight the other disabling symptoms you are living with. This will help you build a stronger case, overall.

Neuropsychological Evaluation

One way to highlight these symptoms is through a neuropsychological evaluation. This type of test is designed to provide objective and concrete evidence of your cognitive impairments. The results of such evaluations can be critical to providing proof of your condition’s effect on your ability to work. Your attorney may suggest that a neuropsychological evaluation is a good way to bolster your case.

Receiving Appropriate Treatment

Another condition of most long-term disability insurance companies is that you must be “receiving appropriate treatment” for your condition. Unfortunately, tinnitus is a condition that often does not have a traditional treatment method that could be considered “appropriate.” Because your condition can onset from a variety of factors, there may not be a clear-cut treatment method for you. Generally, “appropriate” care will depend greatly on the type of tinnitus you have.

For example, if your tinnitus is a result of a different condition you are living with, “appropriate treatment” may be to treat those conditions. Blood pressure issues, cardiovascular disease, temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ), balance disorders, metabolic dysfunction, or Lyme disease are all examples of conditions that can cause tinnitus.

However, most cases of this condition are not identifiable or even treatable. For example, some people suffer from tinnitus as a result of aging. Others may simply suffer from it because of exposure to loud machines. In such circumstances, doctors will generally focus on symptom management.

Ongoing Proof of Treatment for Your Condition

Many symptoms of tinnitus can improve through ongoing care and treatment. Even if symptoms don’t directly improve, management of your symptoms can be enough. Additionally, treatment can help patients adapt to your tinnitus. This can help improve your overall quality of life. Because insurance companies are aware of this, they may require proof that you are receiving ongoing treatment. Additionally, they may require proof of ongoing disability as long as you are receiving benefits. As such, you will have to continue receiving treatment to remain eligible for your long-term disability benefits. Your doctors will need to be able to have a record of your continuing disability. This may be in the form of an Attending Physician Statement.

Can an Attorney Help Me Get Long-Term Disability for Tinnitus?

If you are looking to file a long term disability claim for your tinnitus condition, you should seek out an experienced attorney. At D’Agostino & Associates, we help people living with disabling conditions such as this file long-term disability claims. We help you through the process step by step to help you build a strong case. Our law team is here for you.

At D’Agostino & Associates, our team of lawyers can help you sort through all the details, understand what you are entitled to, and fight to get what you deserve. D’Agostino & Associates P.C. has offices in New York and New Jersey. Contact us, or call us at 1-888-245-2924 to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys.

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