Special Senses and Speech Disorders

If you are blind, deaf, or are unable to speak, you would be disabled under this category of disabling conditions. If you meet the requirements for this type of disability, you can receive SSDI benefits.

Types of Sense and Speech Disorders

All the types of sense and speech disorders considered in this section include:

  • Blindness
  • Loss of visual field
  • Loss of visual efficiency
  • Balance disorders
  • Loss of speech
  • Hearing loss with or without a cochlear implant

Descriptions of each of these disorders follow.


Blindness is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a visual acuity of 20/200 or worse, after all reasonably types of correction have been attempted. Many types of visual tests are used to make a determination of your visual acuity.

Loss of Visual Field

Loss of visual field is when your visual field becomes impaired, typically because you are losing the outer edge of your vision, but sometimes because there is a distortion in the central part of your visual field. Common causes of visual field loss include glaucoma, retinitis pigmentosa and optical neuropoathy.

Loss of Visual Efficiency

Visual efficiency includes visual skills like depth perception, color perception, and eye focusing speed. If your lack of visual efficiency makes it hard for you to work, you may receive benefits under this category.

Balance Disorders

The primary organ of balance is the vestibular system located in your inner ear. If you have a dysfunction in the vestibular system, you may be unable to walk, may suffer vertigo, or be at elevated risk of falls.

Loss of Speech

Loss of speech may be due to any cause, mental or physical.

Loss of Hearing with or without Cochlear Implant

Loss of hearing is defined either as a hearing threshold of 90 decibels or greater in the better ear, or poor word recognition: 40% or less in a phonetic test. People who receive a cochlear implant are automatically considered disabled for the first year. After the first year, they are given word recognition tests.

If you suspect you may be disabled because of a sensory disorder, please contact us for a free eligibility screening.

Other Conditions

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