Earbuds Could Be Responsible for Hearing Damage

You might want to think twice before using your in-ear headphones or earbuds to listen to your favorite music. According to a report on ABC World News last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to get the word out about the dangers of earphones. In the report, Dr. George Alexiades of the NY Ear & Eye Infirmary said, “Normally people were coming in their 50s and 60s with hearing loss. Now, that has shifted into people in their 30s and 40s.”

In the report, Dr. Richard Besser interviewed people on the street listening to earbuds. Using a decibel meter to record the volume of their music, he found that each of the three people he interviewed listened to music at least at 95 decibels, which is about as loud as a lawn mower. According to Dr. Besser, 85 decibels is when hearing damage starts and he warned viewers to “[n]ever go higher than three quarters of your top volume” and limit listening time to “a couple of hours.”

In a statement to ABC News, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that it is “aiming to better inform and educate New Yorkers about ways to protect hearing from exposure to loud sounds.”

NYC’s program is currently in the early stages of development, but the campaign will likely seek to educate the public about the risk of hearing loss caused by listening to music in earphones.

Hearing loss in the U.S. is a widespread problem. In fact, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study from 2011 concluded that one in five individuals older than 12 suffer from hearing loss “severe enough to hinder communication.”

Moreover, the “[s]eeds of older-age hearing loss may be planted by excessive noises in the younger years, so we really need to pay attention to amplified music through ear phones, because it will move the life curve of hearing loss along quicker,” according to Rob Jackler, chairman of the American Academy Otolaryngology Hearing Committee and a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Experts worry that with the increased popularity of earbuds and earphones, the constant influx of loud music could cause long-term hearing damage.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Hearing Loss

Social Security disability benefits are available for profound hearing loss or deafness, but not for moderate or mild hearing loss. The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) List of Impairments  provides the requirements for Social Security disability benefits for hearing loss under Section 2.00. Essentially, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for hearing loss, an applicant must meet either an audiometry standard or a word recognition standard. Even if an applicant doesn’t meet the SSA’s qualification standards in Section 2.00 of the List of Impairments, he or she may still be eligible for disability benefits if he or she is unable to work because of the hearing loss.

The Chicago disability attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC focus on helping individuals with disabilities, including hearing loss, obtain the benefits and compensation to which they are entitled, including SSDI and/or SSI.

If you suffer from hearing loss or would like more information about the dangers of extensive earphone use, contact Ankin Law Office at (800) 442-6546 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago disability attorneys.