DI 34122.003 Special Senses and Speech Listings from 01/06/86 to 05/23/02

2.00 Special Senses and Speech

A. Ophthalmology

1. Causes of Impairment. Diseases or injury of the eyes may produce loss of central or peripheral vision. Loss of central vision results in inability to distinguish detail and prevents reading and fine work. Loss of peripheral vision restricts the ability of an individual to move about freely. The extent of impairment of sight should be determined by visual testing.

2. Central Visual Acuity. A loss of central visual acuity may be caused by impaired distant and/or near vision. However, for an individual to meet the level of severity described in 2.02 and 2.04, only the remaining central visual acuity for distance of the better eye with best correction based on the Snellen test chart measurement may be used. Correction obtained by special visual aids (e.g., contact lenses) will be considered if the individual has the ability to wear such aids.

3. Field of Vision. Impairment of peripheral vision may result if there is contraction of the visual fields. The contraction may be either symmetrical or irregular. The extent of the remaining peripheral visual field will be determined by usual perimetric methods at a distance of 330 mm. under illumination of not less than 7-foot candles. For the phakic eye (the eye with a lens), a 3 mm. white disc target will be used, and for the aphakic eye (the eye without a lens), a 6 mm. white disc target will be used. In neither instance should corrective spectacle lenses be worn during the examination but if they have been used, this fact must be stated.

Measurements obtained on comparable perimetric devices may be used; this does not include the use of tangent screen measurements. For measurements obtained using the Goldmann perimeter, the object size designation III and the illumination designation 4 should be used for the phakic eye, and the object size designation IV and illumination designation 4 for the aphakic eye.

Field measurements must be accompanied by notated field charts, a description of the type and size of the target and the test distance. Tangent screen visual fields are not acceptable as a measurement of peripheral field loss.

Where the loss is predominantly in the lower visual fields, a system such as the weighted grid scale for perimetric fields as described by B. Esterman (see Grid for Scoring Visual Fields, II. Perimeter, Archives of Ophthalmology, 79:400, 1968) may be used for determining whether the visual field loss is comparable to that described in table 2.

4. Muscle Function. Paralysis of the third cranial nerve producing ptosis, paralysis of accommodation, and dilation and immobility of the pupil may cause significant visual impairment. When all the muscles of the eye are paralyzed including the iris and ciliary body (total ophthalmoplegia), the condition is considered a severe impairment provided it is bilateral. A finding of severe impairment based primarily on impaired muscle function must be supported by a report of an actual measurement of ocular motility.

5. Visual Efficiency. Loss of visual efficiency may be caused by disease or injury resulting in a reduction of central visual acuity or visual field. The visual efficiency of one eye is the product of the percentage of central visual efficiency and the percentage of visual field efficiency. (See tables No. 1 and 2, following 2.09.)

6. Special Situations. Aphakia represents a visual handicap in addition to the loss of central visual acuity. The term monocular aphakia would apply to an individual who has had the lens removed from one eye, and who still retains the lens in his other eye, or to an individual who has only one eye which is aphakic. The term binocular aphakia would apply to an individual who has had both lenses removed. In cases of binocular aphakia, the central efficiency of the better eye will be accepted as 75 percent of its value. In cases of monocular aphakia, where the better eye is aphakic, the central visual efficiency will be accepted as 50 percent of its value. (If an individual has binocular aphakia, and the central visual acuity in the poorer eye can be corrected only to 20/200, or less, the central visual efficiency of the better eye will be accepted as 50 percent of its value.)

Ocular symptoms of systemic disease may or may not produce a disabling visual impairment. These manifestations should be evaluated as part of the underlying disease entity by reference to the particular body system involved.

7. Statutory Blindness. The term “statutory blindness” refers to the degree of visual impairment which defines the term “blindness” in the Social Security Act. Both 2.02 and 2.03A and B denote statutory blindness.

B. Otolaryngology

1. Hearing Impairment. Hearing ability should be evaluated in terms of the person's ability to hear and distinguish speech.

Loss of hearing can be quantitatively determined by an audiometer which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for air and bone conducted stimuli (i.e., ANSI S3.6—1969 and ANSI S3.13—1972, or subsequent comparable revisions) and performing all hearing measurements in an environment which meets the ANSI standard for maximal permissible background sound (ANSI S3.1—1977).

Speech discrimination should be determined using a standardized measure of speech discrimination ability in quiet at a test presentation level sufficient to ascertain maximum discrimination ability. The speech discrimination measure (test) used, and the level at which testing was done must be reported.

Hearing tests should be preceded by an otolaryngologic examination and should be performed by or under the supervision of an otolaryngologist or audiologist qualified to perform such tests.

In order to establish an independent medical judgment as to the level of impairment in a claimant alleging deafness, the following examinations should be reported: Otolaryngologic examination, pure tone air and bone audiometry, speech reception threshold (SRT), and speech discrimination testing. A copy of reports of medical examination and audiologic evaluations must be submitted.

Cases of alleged “deaf mutism” should be documented by a hearing evaluation. Records obtained from a speech and hearing rehabilitation center or a special school for the deaf may be acceptable, but if these reports are not available, or are found to be inadequate, a current hearing evaluation should be submitted as outlined in the preceding paragraph.

2. Vertigo associated with disturbances of labyrinthine—vestibular function, including Meniere's disease. These disturbances of balance are characterized by an hallucination of motion or a loss of position sense and a sensation of dizziness which may be constant or may occur in paroxysmal attacks. Nausea, vomiting, ataxia, and incapacitation are frequently observed, particularly during the acute attack. It is important to differentiate the report of rotary vertigo from that of “dizziness” which is described as light-headedness, unsteadiness, confusion, or syncope.

Meniere's disease is characterized by paroxysmal attacks of vertigo, tinnitus, and fluctuating hearing loss. Remissions are unpredictable and irregular, but may be longlasting; hence, the severity of impairment is best determined after prolonged observation and serial reexaminations.

The diagnosis of a vestibular disorder requires a comprehensive neuro-otolaryngologic examination with a detailed description of the vertiginous episodes, including notation of frequency, severity, and duration of the attacks. Pure tone and speech audiometry with the appropriate special examinations, such as Bekesy audiometry, are necessary. Vestibular function is accessed by positional and caloric testing, preferably by electronystagmography. When polytomograms, contrast radiography, or other special tests have been performed, copies of the reports of these tests should be obtained in addition to reports of skull and temporal bone X-rays.

3. Organic Loss of Speech. Glossectomy or laryngectomy or cicatricial laryngeal stenosis due to injury or infection results in loss of voice production by normal means. In evaluating organic loss or speech (see 2.09), ability to produce speech by any means includes the use of mechanical or electronic devices. Impairment of speech due to neurologic disorders should be evaluated under 11.00-11.19.

2.01 Category of Impairments, Special Senses and Speech

2.02 Impairment of Central Visual Acuity. Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.

2.03 Contraction of Peripheral Visual Fields in the Better Eye.

A. To 10 degree or less from the point of fixation; or

B. So the widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees; or

C. To 20 percent or less visual field efficiency.

2.04 Loss of Visual Efficiency. Visual efficiency of better eye after best correction 20 percent or less. (The percent of remaining visual efficiency = the product of the percent of remaining central visual efficiency and the percent of remaining visual field efficiency.)

2.05 Complete Homonymous Hemianopsia (with or without macular sparing). Evaluate under 2.04.

2.06 Total Bilateral Ophthalmoplegia.

2.07 Disturbance of Labyrinthine-Vestibular Function (including Meniere's disease), characterized by a history of frequent attacks of balance disturbance, tinnitus, and progressive loss of hearing. With both A and B:

A. Disturbed function of vestibular labyrinth demonstrated by caloric or other vestibular tests; and

B. Hearing loss established by audiometry.

2.08 Hearing Impairments (hearing not restorable by a hearing aid) manifested by:

A. Average hearing threshold sensitivity for air conduction of 90 decibels or greater, and for bone conduction to corresponding maximal levels, in the better ear, determined by the simple average of hearing threshold levels at 500, 1000, and 2000 hz. (see 2.00B1); or

B. Speech discrimination scores of 40 percent or less in the better ear.

2.09 Organic Loss of Speech due to any cause with inability to produce by any means speech which can be heard, understood, and sustained.



Percentage of central visual efficiency corresponding to central visual acuity notations for distance in the phakic and aphakic eye (better eye).



Percent Central Visual Efficiency




Aphakic Monocular2

Aphakic Binocular3


























































Column and Use

1 Phakic—1. A lens is present in both eyes. 2. A lens is present in the better eye and absent in the poorer eye. 3. A lens is present in one eye and the other eye is enucleated.

2 Monocular—1. A lens is absent in the better eye and present in the poorer eye. 2. The lenses are absent in both eyes; however, the central visual acuity in the poorer eye after best correction is 20/200 or less. 3. A lens is absent from one eye and the other eye is enucleated.

3 Binocular—1. The lenses are absent from both eyes and the central visual acuity in the poorer eye after best correction is greater than 20/200.



Chart of visual field showing extent of normal field and method of computing percent of visual field efficiency.


1. Diagram of right eye illustrates extent of normal visual field as tested on standard perimeter at 3/330 (3 mm. white disc at a distance of 330 mm.) under 7 foot-candles illumination. The sum of the eight principal meridians of this field total 500 degrees.

2. The percent of visual field efficiency is obtained by adding the number of degrees of the eight principal meridians of the contracted field and dividing by 500. Diagram of left eye illustrates visual field contracted to 30 degrees in the temporal and down and out meridians and to 20 degrees in the remaining six meridians. The percent of visual field efficiency of this field is: 6×20+2×30 = 180 divided by 500 = 0.36 or 36 percent remaining visual field efficiency, or 64 percent loss.

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DI 34122.003 - Special Senses and Speech Listings from 01/06/86 to 05/23/02 - 04/15/2005
Batch run: 03/14/2014