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May 16, 2007
Survey: People with Hearing Loss Earn Less

Americans with hearing loss make less money than people with normal hearing, but the use of hearing aids mitigates the effects of hearing loss on income, according to a study released by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI).

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Untreated hearing loss was shown to negatively affect household income, on average, by nearly $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss, the survey found.

While people with treated and untreated hearing loss both earn less than people with normal hearing, for people with more severe hearing loss, the income decline is cut in half among hearing aid owners. For example, the difference in income between people with mild versus profound hearing loss is $20,300 per year for those with untreated hearing loss and $10,200 for those with hearing aids.

The survey found that for every 10 percent increment in hearing loss, the difference in income disparity between those with untreated hearing loss and those with hearing aids increases at the rate of approximately $1,000.

"We've known for a long time that hearing loss takes a toll on people's quality of life and on their ability to socialize and enjoy everyday pleasures like going to a movie or visiting family during holidays," says Sergei Kochkin, executive director of BHI. "Now, this study shows how untreated hearing loss also is a dollar and cents issue. Untreated hearing loss is a financial liability. It hits people directly in their pocketbooks."

The survey included nearly 2,000 adults with untreated hearing loss, 2,000 with hearing aids, and nearly 40,000 with normal hearing.

BHI estimated that the cost in lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss is $122 billion.

"People with untreated hearing loss in the workplace may not realize why they are being passed over for promotion," says Kochkin. "They mistakenly believe that hiding their hearing loss on the job is an effective strategy for getting ahead. As a result bosses may overlook the person with untreated hearing loss, thinking they are not alert simply because the individual's communication on the job is deficient. We know that untreated hearing loss is infinitely more noticeable than hearing aids in the workplace."

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