Does Blindness Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Does Blindness Qualify for SSD Benefits

There are many conditions for Social Security disability benefits that the SSA will consider valid, and because of this people with these maladies may be eligible to receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. But first, a person must have a mental or physical disability for at least one year or until death and not be able to work any job that would provide them with gainful employment .

For those who are legally blind or have low vision, the SSA has special rules. The organization considers people to be legally blind if their vision can’t be corrected to better than 20/200 in the good eye or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with the help of corrective lenses. This means that if the vision is still worse than 20/200 in both eyes even with contacts or glasses, a person can qualify for SSD under the SSA Blue Book listing 2.02 for loss of visual acuity. According to the SSA, some people who can be defined as legally blind still have some sight but they might be able to read even large prints. They also also need help to get around from a cane or guide dog.

If a person doesn’t meet the legal definition of blindness, they may still be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits if their vision problem alone or combined with other issues prohibits him or her from working.

The SSA noted that there are special rules in place for people who blind because this condition can severely impact a person’s ability to work. Because of this, the monthly earnings limit is higher than non-blind workers. Blind can earn up to $1,800 a month and still be able to receive SSD benefits whereas non-blind people have a limit of $1,070 a month.

What Causes Vision Loss?

For those who are not born blind, vision loss and blindness can be the result of a variety of conditions. The leading causes include:

  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma
  • Injuries to the face like chemical burns
  • Macular degeneration

These conditions may lead to partial vision loss where a person experiences blurred, cloudy, fuzzy or tunnel vision, or they may have trouble seeing at night. They can also lead to total blindness in more severe cases.

Other conditions that can lead to vision loss include:

  • Stroke
  • Optic neuritis
  • Lazy eye
  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Tumors
  • Retrolental fibroplasia

Applying For SSD For Blindness

If you know who someone who fits the definition of disability because of their vision loss, they may be interested in applying for SSD. To do so, he or she will need to provide medical evidence to prove they are blind. The SSA will need proof that the person’s vision loss meets the criteria listed in the Blue Book. It’s useful to submit reports on eye exams that include measurements of visual acuity and the extent of visual fields. The SSA may require documentation as how a person’s vision was lost, so it’s a good idea to provide this information as well.

Because applying for SSD benefits can be confusing at times, it’s often beneficial to speak with or hire an advocate or attorney to help understand what is required with the application and what evidence needs to be provided in order to prove to the SSA that a person is disabled because of their blindness.

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