How to Apply for Social Security Benefits on Behalf of a Child with Hearing Loss

Submitted by Eric Minghella (Contact:

If your child is experiencing hearing loss, then there may be help financially in terms of Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits to those of all ages who cannot work because of a disability. If you believe that your child’s hearing loss will prevent them in the future to maintain regular employment, then they may be able to qualify for Social Security benefits. Here is how to apply for Social Security benefits on behalf of a child with hearing loss.

How to Qualify for SSI Benefits

There are two types of financial benefits that the SSA administers to people with disabilities. They are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI benefits are for those who have worked in the past, but can no longer because of a disability. If your child is under 21, most likely they will not have worked enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. They will most likely have to apply for SSI benefits. SSI benefits are for individuals with a disability and very low income, regardless of any prior. To qualify, the SSA must deem your child disabled, but there are also very strict financial requirements. If your child is under 18 and you the parent are working, the SSA will take into consideration some of your income and resources to be available to your child.

How to Medically Qualify Using the Blue Blook

After the SSA takes into consideration the income and other financial requirements needed to qualify for SSI benefits, they will also consult their own Blue Book. The Blue Book is the informal name of the guide that lists the disabling conditions that qualify for Social Security benefits. There is a list of impairments for adults and children under 18. There are two ways a child can qualify for SSI benefits with hearing loss; if they’re treated without a cochlear implant and if they’re treated with a cochlear implant.


How to Qualify Without a Cochlear Implant

If your child does not have a cochlear implant, there are a couple of ways to qualify. If your child is 5 or under they can qualify:

  • If their average air conduction hearing threshold is of 50 decibels or greater in the better ear.

If your child is between 5 and 18 they can qualify:

  • If their average air conduction hearing threshold of 70 decibels or greater in the better ear and an average bone conduction hearing threshold of 40 decibels or greater in the better ear
  • If their word recognition score of 40 percent or less in the better ear determined using a standardized list of phonetically balanced monosyllabic words 


  • If their average air conduction hearing threshold of 50 decibels or greater in the better ear and a marked limitation in speech or language 


How to Qualify with a Cochlear Implant


If your child has a cochlear implant, they can qualify in two ways:

  • If they have had a cochlear implant before age 5 or 1 year after the initial implantation, whichever one is later.


  • If they have had a cochlear implant before age 5 or 1 year after the initial implantation and if their word recognition score is of 60% or less.

The entire Blue Book is available online for your review.


How to Start Your Application:

Applying for Social Security benefits is actually not as bad as you may think it is. If you are applying on behalf of your child, you will have to make an appointment at your local SSA office. There are 26 Social Security offices in the state of Indiana. When applying for SSI benefits with hearing loss, make sure you have as much medical evidence of your child’s condition as possible. The more medical evidence you have, the better. If you have any further questions can you also contact the SSA by calling toll free at 1-800-772-1213.



Hear Indiana Receives $2.5 Million for Financial Sustainability

Contact: Naomi Horton, Executive Director                                                    


Hear Indiana has received a grant of $2.5 million under Lilly Endowment Inc.’s latest round of financial sustainability grants to central Indiana human services agencies.

This grant is one of 10 grants totaling $80 million that are designed to help agencies that serve persons with disabilities and vulnerable children and youth enhance their long-term impact by building stronger financial futures. Lilly Endowment believes that the programs and services these agencies provide help central Indiana be a more caring community.

Hear Indiana will use the grant to establish an endowment, upgrade technology, and build capacity for the organization.

Hear Indiana empowers and supports individuals with hearing loss who listen and speak, and currently operates the Speech & Hearing Resource Center in partnership with Easterseals Crossroads. Through a network of integrated support at Hear Indiana, a child with hearing loss can begin his or her path to success. Hear Indiana provides intervention at the earliest possible moment, therapy to improve listening and speaking skills, up-to-date technology, advocacy for appropriate special education services, emotional support for children and parents, ongoing professional development, and educational workshops. The grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will help Hear Indiana improve outreach to more children with hearing loss across the state.

Executive director Naomi Horton says, “Hear Indiana is extremely humbled to be one of the ten organizations chosen. In our almost 50 years of existence, Hear Indiana has sought to meet the needs of Hoosier children with hearing loss and their families. We would like to thank Lilly Endowment Inc. for this wonderful opportunity to strengthen the long-term sustainability of our organization. It will allow Hear Indiana to serve deaf and hard of hearing children for years and years to come!”

This financial sustainability grant and the grants to the nine other agencies complement Lilly Endowment’s regular support of human services organizations through direct grants and grants to the United Way of Central Indiana. According to Lilly Endowment, these agencies are undercapitalized for the level of assistance they provide. Many of them rely on public sector support, and all of them look to philanthropy to help fund their efforts. They have a history of stretching every dollar at their disposal.

“The staff and leadership of these agencies work every day to help children, adults and families who are among the most vulnerable residents in central Indiana,” said Ace Yakey, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “These grants don’t take the place of ongoing support for day-to-day operations. Instead, the funds will help the agencies build financial infrastructures that will position them better to weather financial challenges and serve more people more effectively.”

This grant was approved under the third round of grants Lilly Endowment has made since 2015 to support the long-term sustainability plans of charitable organizations based in central Indiana. In 2015, the Endowment made grants to 14 arts and cultural organizations totaling $100 million. In 2016, the Endowment made grants totaling $100 million to support the long-term sustainability plans of 15 human services organizations that are primarily focused on providing services in low-income neighborhoods in Indianapolis.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private family foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr., and his sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While these gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

Yes, I can hear you now…

By Jennifer Neer, Hear Indiana Board Member

I was nine years old.  My sister and I were roller skating on a tennis court and I decided to skate as fast as I could.  And I did – I was flying.  Until a rope that was holding up the tennis net hit my chest and threw me backwards.  I was dizzy, my head hurt bad.  I was rushed to the hospital and it was discovered that I had fractured my skull. My ears were ringing, and I was so incredibly tired.  I stayed in the hospital for a week and was home from school an additional week.  It hurt to brush my hair, I had the ringing in my ears, and I noticed that I wasn’t hearing correctly in my right ear.

Continue reading “Yes, I can hear you now…”

We Can Achieve Greatness!

By Tony Gigli, Hear Indiana Board Member

Many years ago, an e-mail came to me asking for volunteers at Hear Indiana’s weekend camp at Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana. As Josh Wade, Camp Director at the time, remembered at that long ago Friday night check in, “We needed an extra guy. We didn’t know what we were going to do. It’s like you came down from the sky”.

Continue reading “We Can Achieve Greatness!”