Americans with hearing loss earn less

Use of hearing aids restores lost income by 50 per cent

Americans with hearing loss make less money than people with normal hearing, but wearing a hearing aid reduces the amount of income lost, according to a new study.

Untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on average, by nearly $23,000 US per year depending on the degree of hearing loss, the survey by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) found.

But the use of hearing aids mitigated the effects of hearing loss on income by about 50 per cent. People with untreated profound hearing loss earned $20,300 US less than those without hearing loss, while those who had hearing aids earned only $10,200 US less than those with normal hearing.

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

Other findings include:

• For every 10 per cent 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 US.

• The estimated cost in lost earnings due to untreated hearing loss is $122 billion US, with the cost to the government in unrealized federal taxes at $18 billion US.

• Currently, more than 24 million people in the United States who say they have hearing loss do not use hearing aids.

"This study shows how untreated hearing loss also is a dollar and cents issue. Untreated hearing loss is a financial liability," said Sergei Kochkin, executive director of BHI. "It hits people directly in their pocketbooks."

The hearing loss population in the United States has grown to 31.5 million people. Hearing loss among "baby boomers" has increased significantly to approximately 15 per cent of those aged 45 through 64.

"People with untreated hearing loss in the workplace may not realize why they are being passed over for promotion. They mistakenly believe that hiding their hearing loss on the job is an effective strategy for getting ahead," said Kochkin. "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."

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