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May 16, 2007

Hearing loss hits people directly in their pocketbooks

People with hearing loss make less money, but the use of hearing aids restores lost income by 50 percent, a US survey shows.

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 study by Better Hearing Institute (BHI) in the US.

The study “Impact of Hearing Loss on Household Income” found that untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on average, by nearly $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss. But the use of hearing aids mitigated the effects of hearing loss on income by about 50 percent, according to the study findings.

The study thereby documented a direct correlation between income loss and hearing loss. It demonstrated that hearing loss has a significant impact on people's ability to earn a livelihood and underscores the importance of treating hearing loss as early as possible.

Among the study's key findings:

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

“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,” said Sergei Kochkin, executive director of BHI.

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 percent of those aged 45 through 64 years.

The “Hearing Loss on Household Income” study was based on data from 53,000 members of the National Family Opinion (NFO) panel. The survey included nearly 2,000 adults with untreated hearing loss, 2,000 with hearing aids, and nearly 40,000 with normal hearing.

Source: “Impact of Hearing Loss on Household Income”, May 2007, Better Hearing Institute,

www.betterhearing.org.

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