Tinnitus, or “ringing in the ear,” is an often debilitating condition. It is characterized by noises in the ear, like ringing, hissing, clicking, or buzzing. A severe tinnitus disability can cause:
- sleep disturbances,
- difficulty concentrating or following conversations,
- memory loss, and
- emotional issues like depression and anxiety.
Tinnitus is not a disease itself. It is a symptom of an underlying condition, often caused by damage to the auditory system. Other conditions of the ear, nose, and throat, including hearing loss are often present with tinnitus, Even with appropriate treatment, a tinnitus disability can be debilitating and severely limit the sufferer’s quality of life.
What Type of Tinnitus Do You Have?
Tinnitus is classified into two types. Subjective is the more common type; objective is less common. To correctly characterize your tinnitus, your physician will employ a process called auscultation. He will listen for sounds in your ear or try to detect a pulse in the surrounding structure. If the physician can detect noise, the tinnitus is labeled objective. Otherwise, the doctor will consider the tinnitus to be subjective.
A specific diagnosis is important to an insurance company considering your tinnitus disability claim. Insurance companies want to see objective proof of tinnitus, a burden met easily when the physician can hear the troubling noises. To prevail on an insurance claim, a patient with the subjective tinnitus may be required to provide additional support. This could be from sleep studies, hearing and audiological tests, cognitive testing, or physician statements.
How your tinnitus is labeled can also affect your eligibility for long-term benefits. Your disability policy might contain a provision that limits your benefits if the diagnosis of your condition is subjective. Your tinnitus disability counsel at Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C. can help you interpret the terms of your policy and provide guidance on the medical documentation you’ll need to satisfy the insurance company.
Tinnitus Is More Than Loss of Hearing
Insurance companies tend to focus on hearing to the exclusion of other symptoms. Often, tinnitus at its worst has little to do with hearing loss. Although hearing loss can occur, other symptoms, such as inability to sleep or focus, cognitive disabilities, and emotional disturbances often have a greater effect on tinnitus disability.
However, despite the reality of a patient’s experience, insurance companies routinely deny claims when the patient fails to show significant hearing loss. A qualified long-term disability attorney can tell you if your policy contains a limiting provision. An attorney experienced with tinnitus disability knows how to highlight a client’s medical history to call proper attention to difficult symptoms. Your attorney will also know when additional testing or a written narrative from your doctor will be effective.
Are You Receiving Appropriate Medical Care?
To qualify for benefits under most long-term disability insurance policies, you will have to provide proof that you’re receiving medical treatment and the treatment is appropriate for your condition. Finding an appropriate treatment can be difficult when the condition presents complicated symptoms and an undetermined cause. Some causes are treatable, such as:
- blood pressure,
- issues with the eustachian tube,
- balance disorders,
- temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
- vitamin deficiencies,
- metabolic conditions, or
- Lyme disease.
Sometimes, tinnitus is a side effect of medication. Finding another effective medication can reduce or eliminate symptoms. Other causes or conditions are not readily treatable, like aging, long-term exposure to loud noises, or trauma.
When the cause cannot be found or does not lend itself to treatment, doctors turn to symptom management. For tinnitus disability, this can include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy,
- use of a white noise machine or neuromonic device,
- avoidance of certain food or substances,
- use of hearing aids,
- physical therapy, or
- vestibular rehabilitation.
Medications will not cure tinnitus, but some can reduce symptoms.
To meet the insurance company’s requirement that you receive appropriate treatment, you must follow through with your doctor’s prescribed treatments, even if you feel that the treatment is not effective for you.
Continuing to Qualify for Long-Term Tinnitus Disability Benefits
In some cases, tinnitus can be treated successfully. In other cases, medication can reduce or manage the effect of the symptoms so that they produce less disruption and discomfort over time. Once your insurance company has approved your claim, the company will require that you undergo evaluation periodically to determine if your condition is severe enough to continue qualifying for long-term benefits. Insurance companies usually require these updates twice a year. If you fail to meet the update requirement, you could lose your benefits.
The tinnitus disability attorneys at Uscher, Quiat, Uscher & Russo, P.C. understand insurance companies and the benefits maze. Let us help you show your insurance provider that you qualify for the benefits you deserve.