The Hearing Aid Tax Credit: Yes You SHOULD Care
Maybe you don’t have a hearing loss. Maybe you don’t even know someone who experiences hearing loss (which is doubtful since 1 in 10 Americans have hearing loss and 1 in 3 for Americans over the age of 65).
So, why should you care about a hearing aid tax credit bill that would give people with hearing loss a $500 tax credit for each hearing aid they purchase?
Well, let’s start with the obvious. Hearing aids are expensive and according to the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) two-thirds of Americans can not afford hearing health care. This translates into hearing loss going untreated. And this is not just seniors – this is children, teenagers and adults of all ages.
Second – hearing loss in inevitable for most Americans due to the aging process (again, 1 in 3 persons over the age of 65 have hearing loss). Hearing loss will ultimately affect all of us in some form at some point of our lives.
Third – the majority of health insurances do not cover hearing loss. Even though hearing loss is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act and has been shown in research studies to affect quality of life, insurance companies (including Medicare) do not see hearing aids as a necessary medical expense. Yes I know, crazy.
The Cost of Hearing Loss
Studies have shown the quality of life for persons who experience hearing loss improves right away when hearing loss is treated with hearing aids. “Hey, I can hear the birds chirping!” May not sound like much to you but when you haven’t heard the birds twittering for the past 10 years, hearing them again is a miracle.
However, there’s more to the Federal Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act than bird watching. While the initial outlay may seem pricey, in the long run this tax credit actually saves taxpayers and the federal government money. Here’s how.
First, the Kids
Today, newborns are routinely tested for hearing loss at birth as a result of the universal newborn hearing screening movement across the United States. This movement has been successful in showing the benefits of identifying hearing loss early on in children.
Early identification of hearing loss in children is critical for ensuring normal language development. We learn to speak by hearing the speech sounds around us. So that’s an apple. That’s a chair. And that’s your mommy or daddy.
If a child is unable to adequately hear, this leads to a delay in speech development. And if speech development is delayed, then reading and learning will also be delayed.
The result of not treating hearing loss early on in children? Money.
A 1995 study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology found children who do not receive early intervention for hearing loss face overall lifetime costs of nearly $1million in special education, lost wages and health complications; and will cost schools an additional $420,000.
Treating a child’s hearing loss early on will not only ensure adequate speech and language development but will also save the federal government and tax payers a lot of money. Sadly there are many families in the United States that cannot afford hearing aids for their child.
Next, Earning Power
The ability to hear clearly on the job isn’t just about safety. Men and women are working longer because they want to or have to. And, a hearing loss can limit the ability of an employee to find a job and limit their earning power.
Persons with untreated hearing loss have been found to earn less money, which means they also pay less in taxes. The difference between a household with a member with hearing loss versus a household without a member who experiences hearing loss is literally thousands of dollars a year.
These potential, taxpaying workers instead become a tax liability. They receive money from social services – Social Security disability and other state and local services that cost taxpayer dollars.
So it is not necessarily the hearing loss causing workers to have a lower earning power on the job, it is the fact their hearing loss is going untreated. According to the national study “Impact of Hearing Loss on Household Income” by BHI, it was found that by wearing hearing aids the amount of lost income was reduced.
Are you starting to see how a Federal tax credit of $500 per hearing aid actually saves taxpayer dollars over the long term?
Finally, Our Seniors
Hearing loss is fairly common among our senior population and will also soon be common among the aging baby boomers. As we age, the hearing mechanism just wears out due to natural aging processes as well as damage from environment noise exposure over a lifetime.
Hearing loss has significant effect on persons and if untreated, it can directly impair quality of life. It can lead to isolation, job loss, depression, relationship problems and many other negative factors.
The point to make regarding our aging population is these are our moms and dads, grandmothers and fathers – the people who have worked their lives for us and now, as they grow older, they need our help. Our help to hear better. Is there any one who would deny a senior citizen the ability to hear better?
Many of them are facing financial hardships due to the down turn of the economy and rising health care costs, in fact financial concern is often cited as a reason for not purchasing hearing aids. But what if they got a break on their taxes?
The Hearing Aid Tax Credit
Hearing aids may be expensive, but the benefits they provide a person with hearing loss far outweigh the cost and are a worthy investment in difficult economic times. However there are many Americans that simply cannot afford the cost and are searching for some form of assistance.
Current legislation (HR 1646) before the House of Representatives provides up to a $1000 tax credit when two hearing aids are purchased for dependents and adults over the age of 55. The Senate is also considering a bill that would cover all age groups.
In these difficult economic times, this is the kind of tax item that can be sliced off a huge tax package without a lot of notice from the media. That is why it’s up to each of us to contact our representatives in Washington, D.C. to show them that we support this compassionate and sensible, money-saving tax legislation.
Make a Difference
You can send your state reps an email, a snail mail or simply pick up the phone. All representatives and senators maintain local offices within their congressional districts and the people who work there WANT to hear from you. You’re a vote in the next election. Let them know you support this legislation and you would like to see them do the same.
BHI and the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) have made it easy for Americans to make their voice heard by sending electronic letters directly to their Senators and Representatives. Visit the website: www.HearingAidTaxCredit.org to learn more about the hearing aid tax credit and to easily contact congress and your state representatives.
Make a difference today. Tell your representative and your senators that you support the federal Tax Credit Act and they should too. If you have a personal story or a story of someone you know, share it with them – they need to hear the stories of how this will impact Americans.
Spread the word to family, friends and coworkers. One way to do so is to share this article with friends, family and coworkers by clicking “email” at the bottom of the page. Into social networking sites? Share it with your favorite social networking sites by clicking “share” at the bottom of the article.
Yes, the hearing aid tax credit is a money saver. But it’s also the right thing to do.