Disability for Blindness and Vision Problems: How to Qualify
Are you or a loved one seeking disability for blindness or vision loss? Social Security disability benefits for blindness or vision loss may be available.
Disability for Blindness and Vision Loss: Brief Background
The terms “blindness,” “legally blind” and “vision impaired” refer to a broad range of conditions ranging from relatively mild limitations to a person’s ability to see objects to total blindness. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines blindness as “central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens.”
Note the phrase “the better eye.” In seeking disability for blindness or vision loss, it is not enough to be blind or more than blind in one eye. If you have one eye that works fairly well, you cannot be paid disability benefits for blindness alone on that basis, no matter how bad the other eye is.
However, when blindness or visual impairment in a single eye or both eyes is only one of a person’s impairments, it can form part of the basis for a successful claim for disability for blindness or vision problems.
You may qualify for Social Security Disability Income (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits for blindness or vision problems even if your condition does not meet the definition of statutory blindness.
In this blog post, we’ll examine how the Social Security Administration’s rules for blindness work.
How Does the SSA Assess Blindness as a Condition for Disability Benefits?
The SSA lumps visual impairment, hearing loss, and speech impairment into one category within in its “Listings” of impairments. You can find the specific disability listing for vision impairment, hearing loss, and speech impairment in the SSA’s “Blue Book” online.
The specific sub-listings for vision impairment are based on three main issues:
- Visual acuity or the ability to focus on and identify objects;
- Peripheral field contraction, a.k.a. “tunnel vision”; and
- Visual efficiency (a combination of the two above)
In order to meet one of these vision impairment Listings, you must demonstrate by a significant, long-time history of treatment records from doctors, ophthalmologists, or optometrists, that certain tests have been run and that you failed those tests in specific, measurable ways.
If you can do that, and you are otherwise eligible for benefits, then you will be automatically approved for disability for blindness or vision problems.
However, if your case does not meet those technical requirements but is still severe enough (in combination with your other health problems) to keep you from working, you may still be eligible for disability for blindness or vision loss. In this case, you may still be awarded benefits by proving that your “residual functional capacity” or RFC (i.e. what you can still do despite your impairments) is so limited that you could not work much if at all no matter how simple or easy the job.
For example, let’s say you have an eye condition that limits your overall visual acuity in both eyes, but not so much that you meet the Listing. However, your vision problems are serious enough to prevent you from performing the jobs you’ve held in the past because they involved the assembly of small objects. Let’s say you also have a bad back and knees so that you cannot be on your feet for more than an hour or so per day, and you have to change positions often because of pain. If the SSA or an Administrative Law Judge concludes that this combination of impairments limits your RFC so severely that few if any jobs could accommodate your limitations, you can be approved for benefits.
Special Rules for Blind Disability Recipients
Finally, it is important to note that special rules apply to blind disability recipients who can and do still work. Those applicants can still work and earn up to $2,110/month (as of 2020). This is significantly higher than the $1,260 limit applicable to disabled (but not blind) disability recipients.
Blind disability recipients can still work and earn that much while still receiving their full level of disability benefits, which max out at $3,011/month. Thus, a blind disability recipient who paid the maximum contribution into the SSA system before becoming blind, and who can still work after being determined to be blind, could receive $3,011/month of disability benefits PLUS $2,110/month of earned income for a total of $5,121/month, without penalty.
Do You Suffer from Blindness or Vision Problems and Need Disability Benefits?
If you’ve been diagnosed with vision impairments and are seeking disability for blindness or vision problems, our North Carolina disability lawyers can help.
For a FREE consultation with a disability lawyer with experience handling disability claims and appeals for blindness and other vision problems, please call 1-800-525-7111 or complete the fast and easy form below.
Because we work on a contingency basis, there are absolutely no upfront costs and you never pay attorney fees unless we win your case or appeal and you receive disability benefits.
Our team knows disability law extremely well, and has won disability benefits for hundreds of North Carolinians suffering from blindness and other disabilities.
“Securing disability benefits for blindness and other vision problems can be complicated. We would love to help you however we can.”
Please call 1-800-525-7111 today for a free, no-obligation consultation with a disability lawyer assisting clients with disability for blindness claims.
Our disability attorneys serve clients throughout North Carolina, including those in Raleigh, Fayetteville, Durham, Goldsboro, Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, Greenville, Jacksonville and Charlotte, to name a few.
There are no upfront costs and you won’t pay any attorney fees unless we are successful in getting you the disability for blindness benefits you need and deserve.
“I would recommend Riddle & Brantley to anyone who needs help with disability.”
–B. Fields, Riddle & Brantley client
Justice Counts for North Carolinians with disabilities and we would love to help however we can.
Please call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE, no-obligation consulation concerning your disability for blindness or vision problems claim or appeal.