If you think you have sustained significant hearing loss as a result of your employment, you may be eligible for hearing aids and/or a lump sum compensation through the workers compensation insurer. This is subject to some exceptions noted below.
Work injury claims for hearing loss can be made through the usual process of submitting a workers compensation claim form with the State Insurance Regulation Authority (SIRA). Once a claim is lodged it will be forwarded to the appropriate insurer who was on risk at the time of injury, usually a deemed date nominated by the worker.
Before you lodge your claim you should attend your local general practitioner for a referral to an audiologist to obtain an audiology assessment to determine the percentage of your hearing loss. This test can be conducted for free through any provider associated with the Australian Hearing Hub. If hearing aids are necessary a quote outlining the cost and model should be provided by the audiologist also.
The results of this test need to get submitted along with your claim form to the workers compensation insurer for a determination. When lodging the claim, it must be lodged on the last ‘noisy’ employer you have worked with. The exact date of injury is usually hard to pinpoint with hearing loss, therefore a deemed date of injury, such as your last date of employment with that employer should be used.
For hearing loss with a deemed date of injury on or after 1 January 2002, you may be eligible for a lump sum compensation if you are assessed as having binaural hearing loss (BHL) of 20.5%, which equals 11% per cent permanent impairment.
For claims with a deemed date of injury before 1 January 2002, an assessed hearing loss BHL of 6% or more is required.
A determination on whole person impairment can only be made by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. This can be arranged by the insurer or through the Workers Compensation Independent Review (WIRO). If your hearing loss does not reach the above thresholds then WIRO will not fund assessment with an ENT and assessment will have to be arranged through the insurer.
For entitlements to hearing aids, a minimum threshold does not need to be met however the hearing loss must be work related and the requirement for hearing aids must be deemed reasonably necessary.
From January 2019, WIRO no longer provides funding for the purpose of investigating or pursuing a claim for hearing aids only. Thus for workers who have reached pension age and have retired from the workforce an application for hearing loss must now be made to the Australian Government Hearing Service Program. To check eligibility, please refer to the Hearing Services Program.
If you are deemed ineligible under this scheme or have any further questions in relation to hearing loss injuries then we recommend you contact our firm. We can be contacted on 1800 205 909 or by the online enquiry form to arrange a free consultation to assess your legal rights and provide you with free advice.