As a former Social Security Disability Determination Examiner, the official answer would be no. “The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
While tinnitus can be quite debilitating, unless it meets the above conditions, tinnitus alone is not considered a disability. However, the mental and sometimes physical impact that some severe forms of tinnitus can bring on would certainly make for a strong argument of disability. I just thought I’d share my experience adjudicating based on the federal government’s definition of “disability”.
The term "disability" may have different meanings depending on the context, so whether tinnitus is considered a disability may depend on how narrowly or broadly disability is defined for that particular context.
There's no question that tinnitus can hinder one's ability to participate in various activities that enhance quality of life, so in that sense, it is a disability.
The severity of tinnitus, and one's emotional response to it, varies greatly from person to person. Some may find it to be quite debilitating, while others would scarcely think to mention it if they weren't asked about it.
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