Financial Assistance and Resources for People With Hearing Loss
Hearing loss affects millions of Americans in various ways but finding the right resources can help you face the challenges.
There are around 48 million Americans experiencing hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing loss affects physical, emotional and mental health. It can also impact an individual’s education and employment. Hearing aids may help address some of these daily life challenges. However, the high cost of hearing aids makes them inaccessible to many.
Fortunately, various resources provide financial, medical and educational assistance to people with hearing loss. For instance, some health insurance providers offer benefit plans for the hearing impaired. Additionally, there are policies in place to prevent discrimination.
Financial Challenges and the Impact of Hearing Loss
Technological advances to create better hearing aids and the introduction of various policies to fight discrimination like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helps people who are hard of hearing or deaf have a better quality of life. That said, those individuals still face many challenges in their daily lives. These include their employment rate, workplace experience, education and communication. The disability may also affect the individual psychologically.
Hearing loss can lead to high expenses. On average, the price of a hearing aid is $2,500 or for two, it can be $5,000. This can highly impact a person’s finances, especially low-income individuals. Many organizations and government institutions offer resources. Examples include state agencies like the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Minnesota Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division.
Any degree of hearing loss can impact students’ school performance. Access to information from discussions becomes limited, such as incidental learning opportunities from peers. Additionally, the need to exert more effort to listen to what’s being said can lead to fatigue. Getting the right equipment, such as assistive listening devices and computer-assisted note-taking systems, may help. Parents and teachers can also support children who have hearing disabilities with the help of various resources, such as the Hands and Voices’s Family Leadership in Language Learning Center.
Employment and job discrimination
A hearing disability can cause limitations in job opportunities. Discrimination against people with disabilities, such as those who are hard of hearing, is prohibited under the ADA. Many experience discrimination in the form of inaccessibility to job-related resources, different treatment in the workplace and sudden changes to job duties. If you think you or someone you know is experiencing employment discrimination, you may file a charge.
Individuals with hearing impairment encounter communication challenges daily. For example, the amount of listening effort required to process information can contribute to listener fatigue as well as difficulty responding appropriately. Confusion can arise from the combination of background noise and the degraded audio signal.
Hearing loss can have different psychological consequences if left untreated. People with hearing impairment may have trouble concentrating, become irritable and paranoid or suffer from insecurity. Experiencing discrimination can also lead to sadness, anxiety, feelings of shame and anger, frustration and depression.
Making the Most of Your Benefits
There are different benefits that a person who is hearing impaired or deaf may be eligible for. You can check available financial assistance and grants from government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Depending on the health care insurance provider, you may also be entitled to receive significant discounts or special offers.
Government Assistance Programs
Low-income individuals and families may find it hard to get proper treatment and assistive devices because of high costs. To help address this issue and ensure that people in need get access to health care services, the government offers various benefits. Depending on the program, there are eligibility requirements. Make sure you do your research to ensure that you’re qualified. Here are some resources you may want to check out.
- Social Security Administration: The SSA has two types of social security disability assistance programs — the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
- Medicaid: Low-income families, qualified pregnant women, eligible children and people receiving SSI may apply for Medicaid to help with healthcare expenses.
- Medicare: Individuals aged 65 or older and people with disabilities or qualified diseases may be eligible for Medicare. Depending on the plan, you may get coverage with a $0 premium. The Original Medicare may not have options for hearing aids or exams related to hearing aids, but Medicare Advantage may have coverage. If the person is eligible, there may be coverage for hearing evaluations, cochlear implant surgeries, or bone-anchored hearing aid surgeries. Check with your Medicare representative.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: This agency offers various benefits to veterans and their families. Among these is the Audiology and Speech Language Pathology Services, which can help veterans with hearing loss or tinnitus.
State Telephone Programs
Communication can be challenging for people who are hard of hearing. The Telecommunication Equipment Distribution (TED) program helps by providing free or low-cost telephone equipment. Each state runs its own telephone program. Thus, the eligibility requirements, funding sources and how the equipment is provided may vary. The Hearing Loss Association of America lists state programs with website links.
Each state also has a designated department, division or office to help people who are hearing impaired or deaf. You can find different programs, such as employment opportunities, independent living services, training assistance, health and safety services, counseling and assistive technology resources. For a complete list of state agencies, visit the National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing website.
Many nonprofit organizations, local and international, serve people who are hearing impaired or deaf. Depending on your needs, you may find charities offering financial support. There are also those focusing on teaching sign language. Some provide hearing aids. You may also find other valuable resources and learning tools.
You can start your search by looking for local charities specifically serving your community. Another option is to see if national nonprofits offer support in your area. Below are some of them.
- American Association of People With Disabilities: Learn about your rights. Find laws and policies created for people with disabilities.
- National Association of the Deaf: Find information and advocacy support for people who are hard of hearing. Learn about various issues like educational rights and access to housing and hospitals.
- American Society for Deaf Children: Families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing may find support and information to help them raise their children. Access resources for learning ASL and determine if your child is qualified for a scholarship.
Health Care Providers
One of the financial resources people who are hearing impaired should check is their health care insurance coverage. Find out if hearing aids and other assistive technology equipment are covered. You may also be eligible for special offers and discounts depending on the health care provider.
- The Marketplace: People with disabilities should indicate their disability when applying for insurance through the Marketplace. This may qualify you for Medicaid or help in paying for your coverage.
- Private Insurance Companies: Some insurance providers may provide coverage for hearing aids. Check with insurance agents and compare your options.
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Find out about the different insurance mandates per state for insurance plans and hearing aids. Learn about state requirements and see if you qualify.
Where to Find Help
Finding support or programs specifically for people with hearing loss can be a bit challenging. But there are a lot of local organizations providing assistance. The map below shows different programs available in each state. Use it to find aid and support for you or your family.
How to Finance and Obtain Hearing Aids
Hearing aids and implants can help improve the lifestyle of a person who is hard of hearing or deaf. They can make it easier to communicate and understand others. However, many people with hearing impairments find it hard to obtain hearing aids.
Hearing aids are personalized. That means it’s necessary to be adequately evaluated by an audiologist to ensure they have the right level of technology. On average, a single hearing aid is $2,500 or $5,000 for two. Depending on the hearing technology, it can be cheaper or more expensive.
For people having a hard time figuring out how to finance hearing aids, the following options may help.
An individual can apply for a personal loan for various reasons, including financing medical-related needs. That said, it’s important to note that a loan comes with interest.
If you only need a small amount of money to purchase a hearing aid, you may opt to use a credit card. Consider applying for a credit card account with a low-interest rate or have cash back or rewards.
Medical Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA)
Check if your employer offers FSA or HSA, which can help you save money and get tax benefits for medical expenses. You can use the amount you save to purchase hearing aids.
Help from friends and family
If finding funds is extremely challenging and you don’t qualify for a loan, consider asking friends and relatives for help. Borrowing money from your loved ones doesn’t involve a lot of paperwork and doesn’t accumulate interest. That said, ensure you have a clear agreement on the repayment to avoid relationship issues.
Some nonprofit organizations offer financial assistance for low-income individuals in need of hearing aids. You may also get a hearing device through the Department of Veteran Affairs if you're a veteran.
The right hearing aid needs to fit your hearing loss, communication needs and lifestyle. There are two professionals who can provide valuable insight regarding the presence of hearing loss and possible reasons for your hearing loss: an ENT doctor and an audiologist.
An audiologist will perform a hearing evaluation to determine the degree and type of hearing loss — for example if the hearing loss is from the inner ear or has other causes. An audiologist may make a medical referral to an ENT if there is an asymmetric hearing loss (i.e., one ear better than the other) or if there is a concern for an ear infection or other medically-related concern following the evaluation. If non-medical treatment and rehabilitation through hearing aids are necessary, the next step is to have a hearing aid evaluation to discuss possible intervention options. The audiologist will help you find the right style and level of technology.
Does Health Insurance Cover Hearing Aids?
Your health insurance may cover hearing aids, depending on your policy and insurer. Your location also plays a huge role. Some states require insurance companies to offer this coverage to employers. Others only require private insurance providers to pay for hearing aids for children. There may also be coverage limits depending on the state.
For example, Arkansas requires insurers to offer hearing aid coverage to employers with a limit of $1,400 per aid every three years. On the other hand, Connecticut requires a $1,000 total per aid every 24 months.
Here are some examples of the benefits of hearing aids to help you get started:
- A specified amount can be used to buy hearing aids. This benefit may be renewed after a certain number of years.
- The policyholder gets an allowance from the insurance plan for the purchase of hearing aids from a contracted provider.
- The health plan gives the policyholder access to significant discounts if they purchase hearing aids from a contracted provider.
The best way to determine if you have this coverage is to check with your health insurance provider.
Ways to Reduce the Cost of Hearing Aids
Studies show that only one in five people needing a hearing aid has one. Despite the need for this device, many find it inaccessible due to the high cost. Below are some tips to reduce the cost of hearing aids.
Prioritize features that matter
The best hearing aid for you is the one that offers the right assistive technology. While it can be tempting to purchase a hearing aid with additional features, focusing on what you need will help save you money.
Talk to your doctor
Your doctor or a hearing specialist may help you find the best options for affordable hearing aids. Ask them for recommendations. They may even refer you to sources of aid.
There are various devices and services available in the market. Shopping around and comparing prices can help you save a lot of money.
Scrutinize the offer
Depending on the hearing aid provider, you may find payment options that will help you save money or spread out the cost over time. It’ll also help to familiarize yourself with the length of warranty and refund policy. For instance, most states require a trial period for hearing aids.
People who are hearing impaired or deaf can benefit from various assistive listening devices (ALDs). These refer to personal technologies that help with communication in public and private settings.
- Personal Hearing Loops: Also known as induction loops, hearing loops help users hear conversations and sounds in places with installed loops. The user simply needs to switch on their device to receive sound.
- Alerting Devices: These devices use amplified sound, vibrations or visual cues to alert the user of safety signals, such as when the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide monitor sets off. These can also be used to signal doorbell alerts.
- Infrared Systems: These transmit sounds from a sound system or public address to a receiver, either a headphone or a neck loop. This requires the user to sit as centrally as possible.
- Radio Assistive Listening Systems (FM Systems): FM systems allow anyone with a receiver, either a headphone or a neck loop, to hear transmissions from a sound system. This is typically used in schools.
Growing Wealth With Strong Financial Literacy
People with hearing loss experience challenges in various aspects. Aside from physical effects, hearing loss can impact one’s finances. Buying ALDs or other assistive technology and getting specific education come with considerable expenses. Financial literacy can help in making more informed decisions and managing finances better.
Budgeting is an important part of financial management. It helps you understand your financial situation. Review your spending. Keep track of your receipts. These budgeting strategies can help you determine areas where you can save money. For instance, you may need to cut back on eating out or reduce unnecessary spending to afford essential purchases.
Learning to budget can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Various resources and tools can help.
- Cents and Sensibility: A Guide to Money Management: The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation offers a free copy of its education booklet to help people with disabilities learn financial skills they can use to make smart money decisions. The guide also contains budgeting tips.
- MyMoney Tools: Find calculators and sample budgeting worksheets to help manage your spending.
- Online Tools and Apps: Start your budgeting journey with the help of online tools and apps like GoodBudget and You Need a Budget.
Saving money helps you prepare for unexpected events, such as emergencies or natural disasters. Generally, setting aside a portion of your monthly income for your savings account is wise. Despite this, many find it hard to save due to limited income.
With the right resources and information, saving is possible even with a low income. The following resources offer saving tips for various circumstances, goals and life stages.
- American Savings Education Council: Find tips and guides on saving. People with disabilities may also find resources about the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account.
- Savings Fitness: The Department of Labor published this guide to share tips on saving and boosting one’s finances. The guide also includes sample worksheets for budgeting and debt management.
- Financial Resilience Center: The National Disability Institute releases resources to help people who are deaf and hard of hearing become more financially literate. Find videos in ASL on how to save and manage money.
Your credit score and history can help you in various ways. For instance, good credit allows you to access better loan deals and mortgages.
You can start establishing and building credit by applying for a credit card, becoming an authorized user on a credit card account, setting up a joint account or having a co-signer. That said, it’s important to remember that these all come with responsibilities. Poor management of your credit and loans can lead to a bad credit score and debt.
Many resources can help you better understand credit, how it works and how you can maintain a good credit score. Here are some of them:
Many think of investment as a passive source of income for the wealthy. While investing comes with risks, it can also help build your retirement fund and grow your wealth. That said, the right time to invest for one person may not be right time for another individual. It’s important to consider your circumstances and financial situation. Consulting a financial advisor or expert may also help.
A lack of knowledge about investing and the various options available prevents many individuals from giving investments a try. Fortunately, there are resources and tools that can help you get started.
- DeafInvest: Find videos in ASL about investment and the different related terms you need to know.
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: This video in ASL helps members of the deaf community understand different investment scams.
- Investment Apps: Learn the ropes of investing with the help of apps like Acorns, Stash and Ally. These are great investment apps for beginners making their first investment.
Sometimes, getting help from other people is necessary to learn better financial management skills. It allows you to understand better your financial struggles and how you can set and achieve goals. You can start with a trusted family member. Consulting a financial advisor may also be beneficial.
Depending on your circumstances, you may find it necessary to seek help from a professional. Here are some resources you might find helpful.
- Financial Counseling Association of America: Access various resources for consumers about student loans, debt and credit management. Find the right credit counselor based on your situation.
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Ask an NFCC expert any personal finance question. You can also find featured questions and expert answers from other website visitors.
- America Saves's Free Financial Coaching and Counseling: Find a financial coach or counselor who can help you manage your finances. Fill out the form and wait for a coach or counselor to contact you.
Financial Literacy for Teenagers Who Are Hard of Hearing or Deaf
Financial literacy is an important skill. Teaching your children early on can help them make smarter financial decisions in the future. Additionally, having a strong foundation of finances will help young people who are hearing impaired or deaf understand the various financial challenges they may face and learn about the benefits they may be entitled to receive.
Family members, especially parents and guardians, play an important role in instilling good money habits in children. Below are some aspects to focus on when teaching your teenager with hearing impairment about finances.
Understand the importance of financial planning
Take your child with you when you go shopping or pay household bills. This will help them understand spending and how much goods and services cost. Doing this will also help them see how to prioritize when it comes to spending.
Choose the right bank accounts
There are different types of bank accounts. Finding the right one for your teen is important. Look for banks that offer deaf-friendly features. Learn about online banking and mobile apps. When choosing a bank account, include your teen with hearing loss in the process.
Find out the benefits and financial support available
Local organizations and state agencies offer varying assistance programs and support to people with disabilities. Search for ones that cater to the deaf community. Then, find out the eligibility requirements. For instance, your child may qualify for scholarship programs and grants that can help them pursue higher education.
Learn how to budget
Discuss budgeting with your child. Teach them the importance of prioritizing expenditures. You can start by showing them how you manage your household income. Budgeting apps and tools can help them create good financial management habits.
How to Support Loved Ones With Hearing Loss
The impact of hearing loss goes beyond communication challenges. It can also affect a person emotionally and mentally. That’s why it’s crucial to have a solid support system. Family members and friends have to create an environment that will allow their loved ones with hearing loss to thrive.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Acknowledge their condition
You first need to acknowledge your loved one’s hearing loss. Consider the necessary changes when interacting with them. For instance, you have to always face them during conversations as they may find it hard to understand you from afar. This will also allow them to see and read your lips. Many people who are hard of hearing use lip reading to better understand others during conversation.
Help them schedule a hearing and medical test to find out what they need. If necessary, accompany them when getting fitted for a hearing aid. You may also consider learning ASL for better communication.
Don’t shout at your loved one with a hearing impairment. Try paraphrasing using different words. Inform them nicely if they missed something that you said. With that in mind, don’t speak too slowly, as that may seem condescending.
Consider different communication methods
There are other ways to communicate besides speaking. For instance, texting or sending an email may make it easier for both parties.
Look for support groups
If you think your loved one with hearing loss needs help, consider looking for support groups in your community. Online forums may also help. This will provide an outlet for your loved one and may lessen the feeling of isolation due to their condition.
Expert Insight on Financial Literacy for People With Hearing Loss
Understanding financial literacy and finding the proper support can help people with hearing loss have a better quality of life. MoneyGeek interviewed some industry experts to share their insights on this subject.
- How can people experiencing hearing loss best deal with their financial needs?
- What resources and tools can benefit people with hearing loss?
- What tips can you share with families who want to improve the financial literacy of their children with hearing loss?
Tax and Elder Law Attorney at IQMOP
Financial Data Analyst & Founder at Information.com
Doctor of Audiology at Michigan Ear Institute
Resources for People With Hearing Impairment
Finding the right resources and tools can help people with hearing impairment deal with the various challenges that come with their disability. The following list includes resources from government agencies and other organizations.
Financial Assistance and Support
- Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Find scholarships for people with hearing impairment. Check financial aid for acquiring hearing technology.
- Ear Community: Find a list of charities and organizations offering financial assistance to help people obtain hearing aids.
- EduMed: Find scholarship programs and financial aid for students with hearing loss or hearing impairment.
- Hearing Charities of America: Check out different programs and campaigns nationwide that cater to people who are hard of hearing or deaf.
Learning and Other Resources
- American Society for Deaf Children: Learn about ASL. Get trained by mentors who are deaf or improve your signing skills with the help of online classes and webinars.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Find agencies and organizations offering assistance to people with hearing loss.
- Easterseals Hard of Hearing and Deaf Services: Get access to various hard of hearing and deaf services, including sign language classes, hearing aids and audiology services.
- HearUSA: Understand hearing loss, the different types and its impact on a person’s quality of life.
- NAD Youth: Learn about the NAD Youth Leadership Camp and discover how your teen with hearing impairment can participate in a personal growth and development program.
- National Credit Union Administration: Find resources on financial literacy and education. Access different agencies and organizations that are offering financial literacy information.
- The Heuser Hearing Institute: Find various speech-language services and learn speech tips. Depending on your state, you may also enroll your child in an academy serving children with hearing loss.
About the Author