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Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act: Be Heard

In the Congressional House of Representatives its called H.R. 2329. The Senates version of the bill is called S.1410. Collectively, the two bills comprise the Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act, a step by our federal legislators to help those with hearing loss defray the cost of a hearing device.

The two bills recommend a $500 tax credit every five years to be used to purchase a qualified hearing aid, which includes most conventional hearing devices from low-cost to highly-sophisticated, digital devices that do everything.

The bill also allows taxpayers to claim the tax credit for a dependent child or parent - a $500 tax credit per individual every five years. The proposed legislation provides the credit to people 55 years old and up those most likely to be considering the purchase of a hearing device.

Sound Like a Good Idea?

You bet it does helping those who need it is always a good idea. However, its important to remember that the Hearing Aid Assistance Bill is just that a bill before Congress, one that may or may not pass and actually be enacted, putting that tax credit in peoples pockets.

Hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and any help could go a long way, especially since most [health] insurance policies do not cover hearing aids, according to Kelby Brick, Director of Law and Advocacy for the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). This bill is a good start. The NAD will continue to seek ways to fund coverage or reimbursement for hearing aids. Those bills [before the House and Senate] are a step in the right direction.

So far, the bill appears to have bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle in both the House and Senate. However, all of us can do even more by contacting our local representatives in Washington, D.C. and letting our opinions be heard loud and clear.

Why Your Support Is So Important

Is it important? Let there be no doubt. There are many people in this country who experience some degree of hearing loss that could be helped by this bill people without the financial resources necessary to purchase a hearing device. Unfortunately, many of these individuals not only experience hearing impairment, they also experience a lower quality of life and increased social isolation.

With 10 million older Americans experiencing some measure of hearing loss this bill will improve the lives of our senior population and middle class families with a member who experiences a hearing loss. A report issued by the National Council on Aging demonstrates that when hearing loss is left untreated in older populations, individuals must cope with distorted communication, isolation, withdrawal [from others], depression, anger and severely reduced overall psychological health, in addition to an average loss of income per household of $12,000 per year.

Think about that. Because of a hearing loss or impairment, the very people who most need a hearing aid are least likely to be able to afford it. They earn less and are segmented from mainstream society both emotionally and physically.

And please dont forget the children who must cope with hearing loss. It is one of the most widespread birth defects in the U.S., affecting 2-3% of all infants. According to the Better Hearing Institute, over one million youngsters under the age of 18 cope with hearing loss that slows the entire learning process. Infants can be fit with hearing devices shortly after birth, improving their abilities to learn, mainstream with their peers and lead a happier, healthier life.

Further, those infants who are treated early for hearing impairments will contribute to a better society rather than taxing the system with the costs of remedial education, vocational skills development and other programs designed to place these children in the workplace as self-supporting, tax-paying citizens. In other words, even those who may be opposed to the bill for fiscal reasons must recognize that, long term, this bill will save the government money and actually increase the governments coffers by enabling these young people to learn, to grow, to integrate and, yes, pay taxes.

The American Speech-Language Hearing Associations president, Noma Anderson, put it this way: Financial constraints are cited as a core reason many Americans do not use hearing aids. Hearing aids are currently not covered under Medicare or under the vast majority of state-mandated benefits. This bill will help people with hearing loss purchase these much needed devices.

Be Heard

Whether this proposed Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act will help you or your family directly, or whether you see the broader, longer-term benefits to our society, the best thing to do is write a letter to your senator or congressperson. Share your story with them and how you or someone you know would benefit from House bill HR2329 and Senate bill S1410. You may find contact information for your local senator and congressperson on the following website: www.congress.org/congressorg/home/.

The American people who suffer from hearing loss deserve this legislation to pass. Showing your support may benefit you, your friends, family and neighbors for many years to come.

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