3.6.3.110 Guidelines to Table 11 - Hearing and Other Functions of the Ear

Summary

Table 11 is used where a person has a functional impairment when performing activities involving hearing function or other functions of the ear. Other functions of the ear include balance.

The diagnosis of the condition must be made by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. There must also be supporting evidence from an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

If the person uses a prescribed hearing aid, cochlear implant or other assistive listening device, they must be assessed on their ability to undertake activities listed in Table 11 while using any device that they have and usually use.

In determining whether a person has received reasonable treatment for their impairment, consideration should be given to the aids and equipment or other assistive devices they have and usually use. For example, if a person would benefit significantly from an assistive listening device but chooses not to use one, consideration should be given to whether they have received reasonable treatment and if their impairment can be considered fully treated and fully stabilised.

A PERSON'S SELF-REPORTED SYMPTOMS MUST NOT BE SOLELY RELIED UPON in determining the functional impacts of a person's permanent condition (impairment). There must be corroborating medical evidence of the person's impairment.

If the person uses a recognised sign language (e.g. Auslan) or other non-verbal communication method as a result of hearing loss, Table 11 should be used.

Determining the level of functional impact - general rules

When determining which impairment rating applies to a person the rating that best describes the person's abilities or difficulties must be applied. In applying the descriptors, each descriptor sets out how the points within it are to apply.

In order to meet the applicable descriptors for the 5, 10 and 20 impairment point ratings, a person must satisfy either (1) or (2). All the descriptor points at (1) must be met for the applicable impairment point rating.

To satisfy 0-point or 30-point descriptors, all of the points listed in the descriptor must apply to the person.

The structure of the Tables requires that, in assessing the level of functional impact, a comparison must be made of all the descriptors for each level of impairment. An assessment starts by considering the descriptors for 0 points, and if a person has more than 'no functional impact', the descriptors for 5 points are then considered, and so on for the descriptors for higher impairment levels. When it is determined that the person meets all the required descriptors for a certain impairment rating level, but does not meet all the required descriptors for the next impairment rating level, the appropriate impairment rating applicable to the person's circumstances will be the lower of those 2 impairment ratings (i.e. the rating at which all the required descriptors are met).

Note: Individual descriptors or their parts must not be applied in isolation from one another.

In determining whether the required descriptors for a specific impairment level are met or not, ALL the descriptors for that level must be considered and applied as set out in the descriptor. NO descriptors or their parts are to be disregarded. One of several descriptor points may be sufficient for that rating when the word 'or' links the descriptors.

Explanation: Where a person meets the required descriptors for 5 points but does not meet sufficient required descriptors for 10 points, the correct impairment rating is 5 points. Their impairment CANNOT be assessed as moderate, severe or extreme, and neither 10, 20 nor 30 points can be allocated.

Determination of the descriptor that best fits a person's impairment level must be based on the available medical evidence including a person's medical history, investigation results and clinical findings. A person's self-reported symptoms must not solely be relied on. It would be inappropriate to apply an impairment rating based solely on a person's self-reported functional capacity if this level of functional impairment is not consistent with the medical evidence available.

Act reference: Social Security (Tables for the Assessment of Work-related Impairment for Disability Support Pension) Determination 2011 Table 11 - Hearing and other Functions of the Ear

0-point impairment rating level

The 0-point descriptor specifies that the person has NO or minimal functional impact on activities involving hearing function or other functions of the ear.

5-point impairment rating level

The 5-point descriptor requires that there is a MILD functional impact on activities involving hearing function. The person's impairment must meet descriptor points (1)(a), (b) and (c) or descriptor (2).

10-point impairment rating level

The 10-point descriptor requires that there is a MODERATE functional impact on activities involving hearing function even when using a hearing aid, cochlear implant or other assistive listening device; or sign language interpreting is required. A person's impairment must meet descriptor points (1)(a), (b) and (c) or descriptor (2).

20-point impairment rating level

The 20-point descriptor requires that there is a SEVERE functional impact on activities involving hearing function even when using a hearing aid, cochlear implant or other assistive hearing device or technology, or sign language interpreting is required. A person's impairment must meet descriptor points (1)(a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) or descriptor (2).

30-point impairment rating level

The 30-point descriptor requires that there is an extreme functional impact on activities involving hearing function even when using a hearing aid, cochlear implant or other assistive listening device. A person's impairment must meet both descriptor (1)(a) and (b).

Some conditions causing impairment commonly assessed using Table 11

These include but are not limited to:

  • congenital deafness
  • presbyacusis
  • acoustic neuroma
  • side-effects of medication
  • Meniere's disease
  • tinnitus, and
  • noise-induced hearing loss.

Example: A 50-year-old man suffers from hearing difficulties due to many years working as a tradesman in the commercial building industry. Supporting evidence confirming the diagnosis of noise-induced hearing loss has been provided from an audiologist. This man has been fitted with hearing aids in both ears, which has significantly improved his hearing. He has been using these hearing aids for the past 5 years and without them, he finds communication more difficult, particularly at further distances. The medical evidence states that he use the hearing aids in most social environments.

Without his hearing aids, this man has severe difficulty hearing any conversation or sound. In situations with background noise and despite using hearing aids, he has some difficulty hearing a conversation at an average volume and has difficulty hearing a conversation when using a landline or mobile phone.

The condition is considered fully diagnosed, treated and stabilised. Under Table 11, this man would be assessed when using his prescribed hearing aid and would be assigned 5 points under Table 11 due to the mild functional impact his hearing has on his daily activities. Under the 5-point descriptor this man would meet (1)(a), (b) and (c).

Impairments that should not be assessed using Table 11

Impairment in communication function that is not due to hearing function or other functions of the ear would be more appropriately assessed under Table 8 - Communication Function.

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