If you feel your hearing may have been permanently damaged as a consequence of your workplace than you may be entitled to have your hearing tested, and if a significant permanent hearing loss is determined then you may be entitled to compensation. You can then use it to pay for the treatment of the hearing loss if necessary. There are several ways to get the process initiated but basically it can either be determined if there is a significant hearing loss either privately, or directly through your employers workplace insurer. If you go privately then you need to see an accredited Workcover Audiologist and they can do an Audiological assessment and perform a calculation of your percentage loss of hearing (PLH), they will advise if you have a significant loss which could be claimable. Should a significant loss be found then the results would be sent to the Human Resource Department of your Company who will then initiate a claim through their workplace insurer and they may then reimburse any costs incurred for the assessment.
Alternatively you can initiate a claim directly through the workplace insurer. Again you would consult the Human Resource Department of your Company to initiate the claim. The insurer will then organise the assessment with an accredited Workcover Audiologist and will cover all costs associated with the testing.
There are different payment levels and protocols for different insurers, however there do appear to be some similarities across the board. I do stress at this point that not all insurers have the same policies and you should consult your workplace insurer for more information.
The magic percentage loss of hearing (PLH) number used by the majority of insurers is 5%. If a hearing loss is less than 5% than the hearing loss is not deemed to be significant enough to warrant compensation. However keep in mind that this number is not actually a real indication of your hearing loss or your subsequent communication difficulties, it is just a number to determine payout amounts. I have many patients with less than a 5% loss of hearing who suffer from significant communication difficulties.
As the percentages get higher the payout amounts generally increase, however do not for a minute think you can fake or exaggerate your hearing loss to receive any extra compensation. It is virtually impossible to fake or exaggerate a hearing loss performed by an accredited Audiologist.
Some workplace insurers will also allow more than one claim if your hearing has deteriorated significantly since the last claim. In this instance the payment is calculated based upon the change in hearing since the last claim and again the standard seems to be around 5 per cent, with significant deterioration regarded as more than a 5 per cent change since the previous claim. This does not mean a revolving door of claims as it may take over 5-20 years for the hearing to deteriorate a further five per cent. So you need to keep in mind that the purpose of the payout is to help assist with the cost of the treatment which usually means some form of hearing device or aid. Even the smallest payout will usually cover the cost of a good set of quality hearing aids. It is important to note that a payout may need to cover you for more than one set of hearing aids if the insurer only pays a one off amount or if your hearing does not significantly change over a long period of time.
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