The WSIB may authorize the provision, replacement, or repair of hearing devices, which includes, hearing aids and related accessories, and hearing assistive technologies, where entitlement has been established for any work-related hearing loss.
This policy outlines the criteria for allowance and payment for the provision, replacement, or repair of hearing devices in cases where work-related hearing loss entitlement has been established.
Audiologist: regulated health professional qualified to measure hearing, and prescribe, supply, and fit hearing aids and assistive technologies according to individual needs.
Hearing aid: a small battery-powered electronic apparatus which typically fits in or behind the worker’s ear, and is designed to amplify and modulate sound to compensate for impaired hearing.
Hearing aid related accessories: items required for ease of use, and for the proper care and maintenance of hearing aids (e.g., cleaning kit, sanitizer, wipes, brush, carrying case, battery tester, telephone pads, dri-aid kit, wax guard/basket, ear mold blower).
Hearing assistive technologies (HATs): items that can present auditory, visual, or tactile information to workers with impaired hearing (e.g., alerting systems, telephone amplifiers, television specific devices, FM systems).
The worker is entitled to a hearing aid once they satisfy the following criteria:
- the worker has an allowed claim for work-related hearing loss,
- the device is prescribed by an audiologist or physician, and
- a hearing assessment (i.e. medical case history, audiometry, other tests as needed) has been provided which meets practice standards, and contains findings that support the use of a hearing aid.
The worker is entitled to a trial period of at least 30 days from the date the hearing aid was dispensed. This trial period helps ensure the worker has been fitted with the proper hearing aid.
Once the worker has entitlement to a hearing aid, the worker can choose a hearing aid authorized by the WSIB. This includes a range of hearing aid models that consist of various integrated components and types of fit that meet the needs of most hearing aid users.
For those workers with entitlement to a hearing aid who have specific clinical requirements that cannot be met by an authorized model, the WSIB may consider offering an alternate suitable hearing aid. Workers seeking an exception model are required to first receive pre-approval from the WSIB before purchasing the hearing aid.
When considering these exceptional cases, the WSIB reviews the supporting clinical evidence in the claim, which includes the hearing assessment, documented clinical rationale, and prescription for the hearing aid. The WSIB considers whether the integrated components and features requested for the aid are clinically required for the worker to be able to function fully and safely at home, work, and in the community.
Hearing aid repairs
After the warranty period for a hearing aid previously authorized by the WSIB expires, the WSIB may pay reasonable costs to repair the hearing aid unless there is evidence that the hearing aid was deliberately damaged, misused, or the operating instructions were not properly followed. The WSIB also covers the cost for the loan of a hearing aid while repairs are being made.
Hearing aid replacements
Generally the WSIB will replace a hearing aid after it has been in use for 5 years. When determining the necessity for a replacement before 5 years, the WSIB considers changes in the worker's clinical requirements or the condition of the hearing aid. A replacement may also be appropriate where the hearing aid is lost or stolen. Hearing aid replacement requests must be accompanied by documentation which substantiates the worker's need for a new hearing aid.
Change to the worker's clinical condition
The WSIB will consider authorizing a replacement when there is a permanent change in the worker's work-related or non-work-related clinical condition that impacts the ongoing use of the current hearing aid and this is substantiated by the clinical documentation. The documentation must set out a clinical rationale supported by a recent hearing assessment and prescription.
Condition of the hearing aid
The WSIB recognizes that the longevity of a hearing aid can be dependent on the extent of usage, which may warrant a replacement aid.
The WSIB may also authorize a replacement when a hearing aid is damaged beyond repair unless there is evidence that the hearing aid was deliberately damaged, misused, or the operating instructions were not properly followed. A hearing aid may be considered beyond repair when high repair costs make replacement a more appropriate alternative, or the nature/extent of the damage prevents repairs.
Lost or stolen hearing aid
If the worker's hearing aid is lost or stolen, the WSIB may authorize a replacement aid once before 5 years.
In the event the WSIB has authorized a replacement and the hearing aid is lost or stolen again before 5 years, the purchase of a new device is generally the worker’s responsibility. However, all decisions are made after reviewing the unique facts and circumstances of each claim.
Hearing aid accessories
The WSIB may authorize payment for hearing aid accessories that are required for ease of use and for the proper care and maintenance of hearing aids.
Hearing aid batteries
The WSIB may authorize reasonable requests for the replacement of hearing aid batteries.
Hearing assistive technologies (HATs)
Workers should request pre-approval from the WSIB for the initial purchase and for the subsequent repair or replacement of a HAT.
The WSIB may authorize the provision of HATs. When determining entitlement, the WSIB considers whether evidence supports that the requested HAT will assist the worker’s return to work, facilitate improved communication at home or in the community, or increase the worker’s personal safety.
After the warranty period for a HAT previously authorized by the WSIB expires, the WSIB may pay reasonable costs to repair the HAT unless there is evidence that the HAT was deliberately damaged, misused, or the operating instructions were not properly followed.
The WSIB may replace a previously authorized HAT, if necessary. When determining the necessity of replacement, the WSIB considers factors such as the condition of the HAT and permanent changes in the worker’s clinical requirements that impact the ongoing use of the HAT as supported by clinical documentation.
This policy applies to all requests for the provision, replacement, or repair of hearing aids and related accessories, and hearing assistive technologies that are received by the WSIB for approval on or after May 2, 2022, for all injuries/diseases.
This document replaces document 17-07-04 dated January 3, 2017.
This document was previously published as:
17-07-04 dated February 1, 2011.
17-07-04 dated November 23, 2009.
17-07-04 dated October 12, 2004.
06-04-03 dated February 23, 1994.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 32, 33, 119(1)
Workers’ Compensation Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended
Sections 50, 51, 52, 73
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