Did you know that hearing aids may be tax deductible? For individuals with hearing loss, this can provide a significant financial benefit. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes the importance of hearing health and allows eligible taxpayers to claim hearing aids as a medical expense deduction. In this blog post, we will explore the criteria for qualifying for this deduction, the potential savings it can bring, and important considerations when claiming hearing aids as a tax deduction. Discover how you can make your hearing health journey more affordable while enjoying the benefits of improved hearing.
Intro About Hearing Aids Tax Deductible
Hearing aids are a highly under-utilized device, given the percentage of the population with hearing loss and their obvious benefits. One large barrier to being fit with hearing aids for many individuals is the cost. It is highly recommended that patients with bilateral hearing loss are fitted with two hearing aids.
The cost for a pair can range anywhere from about $2,500 to $7,000, depending on the technology level. It is important to note that most providers bundle in-service and warranty charges with the cost of the hearing aids, which means that patients are not charged separately for the fitting and adjustment appointments or in-warranty repairs. Still, the up-front cost can feel prohibitive for many patients.
If you find yourself asking, “are hearing aids tax deductible?” we will answer that question along with several other important and relevant questions below:
Do Hearing Aids Qualify for Tax Deduction?
The short answer is yes. Hearing aids can qualify as a tax deduction under the ‘medical expenses’ category of your tax return if you choose to itemize. In order to claim a deduction for medical expenses, they need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. If you are earning $100,000 per year, that would be greater than $7,500 in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Your hearing aids may very well fill much of that bucket, as would any other healthcare expenses not covered by insurance, including visits or procedures by other providers (including dentists), prescription drugs, or inpatient or nursing home care. You can also include transportation costs to and from health-related appointments, though you would want to have documentation of this in the form of gas receipts, tolls, etc.
How Do I Itemize My Medical Expenses (Including Earing Aids)?
If you are earning $100,000 per year, you can itemize medical expenses if they exceed $7,500. So, let’s say you purchase hearing aids for $6,500, but you also have $2,000 of out-of-pocket spending for another procedure that was not fully covered by your insurance and $500 worth of prescriptions for the year. That brings your total medical expenses to $9,000. You can subtract from that total the 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, bringing your amount, which qualifies for a tax deduction, to $1,500.
Remember that if you use a tax service or accountant to assist with your tax returns, a lot of this is automated, and you will simply have to input the numbers using your personal records of healthcare spending.
What If I Have A Health Savings Account (HSA)?
A health savings account (HSA) is an option offered in some health insurance plans to move money from each paycheck pre-taxes to an account designated for healthcare expenses. If you pay for hearing aids through an HSA account, you are not eligible to deduct them as a medical expense for a tax deduction because the tax deduction was already applied to the HSA.
Depending on your financial situation and insurance plan, it may make more sense to use an HSA to save up for hearing aids over time. If you pay for your hearing aids with cash or credit, you can use the itemized medical expenses deduction.
Do I Qualify For The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) applies to low- to moderate-income working individuals. The amount of the credit can vary depending on whether you have children, dependents, or are disabled. You can consult the IRS.gov page or work with your accountant to determine if you qualify for this specific credit.
Do I Qualify For The Hearing Loss Disability Tax Credit?
Another possible tax credit is one for the elderly or disabled at-a-glance. In order to qualify for this credit, you must be older than 65 or retired on permanent and total disability and have received taxable disability income for that tax year.
You must also have an adjusted gross income or total income through Social Security, pensions, and disability income below a specific limit. This credit can range between $3,750 and $7,500, depending on your situation. If you think you may qualify for this credit, you should consult your accountant or tax service.
Are Hearing Aid Batteries Tax Deductible?
Many hearing aids today are rechargeable, but if you are using hearing aids that rely on disposable batteries, these can be added to your itemized list of medical expenses. That said, you would want to make sure that you have records and receipts of the battery purchases. It can be more cost-effective and easier to document purchasing hearing aid batteries in bulk, so consider a site like Amazon or MicroBattery.com for your hearing aid batteries.
If you have other out-of-pocket expenses related to your hearing aids, such as repair costs or charges for office visits when you are outside of your initial warranty, these can also be deducted. Most hearing aids have longer warranty periods for higher technology levels (i.e., a one-year warranty for entry-level three-year warranty for advanced) so this is something to consider when determining your technology level with your provider, as well.
Are There Any Other Deductions I Might Take In This Situation?
If you are an existing hearing aid user and plan to replace your current hearing aids, you might consider donating your older pair to an organization such as your church or the Lions Club. The Hear Now Foundation, through Starkey, also accepts donated hearing aids. This donation will be tax deductible if the hearing aids are donated to a certified nonprofit organization that can supply a charitable contribution letter. The hearing aids could be refurbished and reprogrammed for another individual who may not be able to afford them.
What Are Some Other Ways to Make Hearing Aids More Affordable?
Consider the type of provider you are consulting for your hearing aids. Often, they are less expensive in a hospital or university clinic setting because these tend to be not-for-profit, compared to private practices or Ear, Nose & Throat clinics. That said, because the services are bundled in with the cost of the devices themselves, you want to be seen by a provider you trust and with whom you have a good rapport. Some centers will also offer payment plans to help spread out the cost over time.
Erin Edwards received her Doctor of Audiology degree from Towson University in 2015 and her Ph.D. in Education and Leadership from Pacific University in 2022. She has worked with patients of all ages in a variety of settings and has a specific interest in cochlear implants, the relationship of hearing loss and dementia, and interdisciplinary healthcare.