According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million U.S. workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels each year. Hearing loss ranks third in chronic conditions after high blood pressure and arthritis.
The CDC says occupational hearing loss (OHL) affects one out of every four workers. While excessive noise is responsible in most cases, the hearing of roughly 10 million workers is impaired by ototoxic chemicals, such as solvents, in the workplace. Not all hearing loss qualifies for disability benefits, but insurers often reject valid claims.
Common reasons for insurer denials
Insurance companies routinely reject hearing loss disability claims. The reasons for denials include the following:
- Hearing loss cannot be proven
- Your loss of hearing doesn’t prevent you from performing your own or any occupation
- Supervisors or other observers don’t see any signs of hearing difficulties
Some insurers will also reject legitimate medical diagnoses suggesting that workers limit or restrict their duties due to hearing loss.
Be prepared before filing a disability claim
The CDC says construction workers and others should start to worry about OHL when noise levels reach 85 decibels or higher. Repeated exposure to increased levels often leads to long-term damage. If you experience hearing loss, take these steps:
- Consult your employer’s disability policy
- Ask your employer for a job description or create one detailing your duties
- See a doctor and thoroughly explain your job duties and symptoms
- Get a copy of your medical records
- Access personnel files, including evaluation forms
An attorney specializing in ERISA claims can help you with an initial claim or help determine whether an appeal is justified after a denial. Rejected claims are not unusual and often happen for employees with legitimate medical and health benefits claims.