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Threshold could deny support after a life of work

Media Release
15th October 2009

Threshold could deny support after a lifetime of work

The ACC’s 6% threshold for hearing loss could deprive people who have spent a lifetime in noisy jobs their right to support for damaged hearing, the Hearing Association says.

Association spokesman John Harwood said that if ACC added the new 6% threshold to its existing scale of age-related hearing loss, people who had damaged hearing could face an insurmountable barrier.

“ACC presumes every male over the age of 57 and every woman over the age of 65 has a natural hearing loss, and if ACC adds the new threshold to that scale, people could miss out on the support they need,” Mr Harwood said today.

“For example, the ACC scale says that a man aged 65 is presumed to have a natural hearing loss of 2.9%. If you add the 6% threshold, that man will have to have a total hearing loss of 8.9% before ACC will support him.

“If that man in fact has a 7% noise-induced hearing loss from his working life, he’s going to miss out.

“Instead he will have to turn to the Ministry of Health system where there are already huge delays, and where the only support he will get will be $500 towards a hearing aid when total costs can run into thousands of dollars.

“One of the insidious problems of hearing loss is the fact that it often happens slowly and only becomes noticeable after the damage is done.”

Mr Harwood said noise-induced hearing loss affects people’s ability to understand speech and communicate and often results in psychological effects such as feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. It can also have a major impact on older people’s ability to remain independent.
”We don’t agree with the concept of a threshold of any sort because we’re all different, and thresholds like this leave no room for discretion,” Mr Harwood said.

“An arbitrary limit has the potential to deny people the right they have to support from ACC and leave them facing costs they may not be able to afford.”


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