Yes, Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation does cover hearing loss. According to Johnson Law Offices “About 20 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Workplace noise contributes from 1/2 to 2/3 of all hearing loss. Worker’s compensation was established to encourage employers to make a safe work environment for employees and to compensate for injuries which occurred while on the job. Today employers provide hearing protection, but for many aging workers the damage has already been done. Worker’s compensation pays for the disability of hearing loss just as it would any other work injury.” As a matter fact hearing loss claims rank #3 for the number of worker's compensation injury claims filed today.
Work history, medical opinion, and common sense usually prevail in decisions insurance carriers and the state make in paying claims. Workplace noise is not required to be the only cause for the hearing loss, but it must have contributed to the hearing loss. For example, someone may have been exposed to noise at work and they may also have hearing loss due to the aging process. The focus of the law is upon the contribution of workplace noise to the hearing loss.
Compensation is available to those whose hearing has been impaired as a result of “noisy employment.” Exposure to noise for just several months may result in a compensable loss. The longer the exposure to noise usually means the greater the hearing loss and the more compensation. If one needs to regularly shout over the noise to communicate to his nearby fellow workers it is often considered to be “noisy employment.” If your ears ring at the end of the day of working in noise there is a very good chance that the level of sound where you are working may be causing permanent hearing loss.
Worker’s compensation benefits for hearing loss are largely undiscovered benefits covering hearing health care. Unlike most health insurance policies and Medicare, worker’s compensation can cover hearing aid purchases, repairs, supplies, and accessories in addition to the disability payment for the actual hearing loss.
Those qualifying for Worker's Compensation due to hearing loss are usually retired hearing impaired workers who are more often than not unaware of the benefits they’re entitled to. Perhaps out of fear of too many hearing loss claims, quite often their employer's do not inform them of this benefit when they retire. Many think it has been too long since retirement to collect benefits, or that they might not be able to collect because the place they worked is out of business. This is not the case in Wisconsin.
When considering if you may qualify for Worker's Compensation for hearing loss remember: 1) One must have worked in a “noisy employment” situation in Wisconsin. 2) One may not file a claim for hearing loss until you leave the workplace noise for any reason, such as: retirement, lay-off, or change of position or career. 3) One must have a compensable hearing loss. A sensorineural hearing loss as mild as 30-35 decibels could be compensable if one stopped working within the last 12 years. 4) Funds may also available for those who worked in noise longer than 12 years ago, should the hearing loss be severe enough. 5) It could take from 6 – 12 months or longer to finalize a worker's compensation case for hearing loss.
If you think you may have a work related hearing loss contact a Hearing Health Professional to schedule a hearing test to determine your eligibility. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Attorney Douglas Johnson of Johnson Law Offices specializes in Worker's Compensation for hearing loss only. You may reach him at www.hearlosshelp.net or by calling toll-free 1-800-400-5765 or 608-882-6571.
If you are reading this and are not from Wisconsin, or were employed out of the state, you will have to check with a Worker's Compensation Specialist in your state to find out how your state handles hearing loss claims.
By Susan L. Fenrich, BC-HIS, Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist, Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences