Monday, March 10, 2014

SSDI for Persons Who Have Low Vision or are Blind

I receive frequent calls from persons who want to know whether they qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits based on their poor vision.  Most people don't seem to be aware that the legal requirements needed to qualify for disability benefits due to this condition are fairly strict. 
With respect to blindness and Social Security Disability, there are two important points that must be kept in mind:  First of all, Social Security determines whether a person qualifies for benefits based on their vision on the better eye.  Therefore, if you are completely blind in one eye but have 20/20 vision on the other, you will not meet the blindness listing.  Second, Social Security determines whether you are blind based on your corrected vision, not on the vision that you have when you are not wearing glasses.
In essence, Social Security will find that you are eligible for benefits if your vision cannot be corrected better than 20/200 in your better eye, or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens.
If you do not meet the definition mentioned above, you may still be able to qualify if other health problems combined with your age prevent you from working.  There are a number of Social Security Rulings that evaluate a person's ability to do work if they have problems with visual acuity.  In this respect Social Security Ruling 96-9p states:   
    Visual limitations or restrictions: Most sedentary unskilled occupations require working with small objects. If a visual limitation prevents an individual from seeing the small objects involved in most sedentary unskilled work, or if an individual is not able to avoid ordinary hazards in the workplace, such as boxes on the floor, doors ajar, or approaching people or vehicles, there will be a significant erosion of the sedentary occupational base. These cases may require the use of vocational resources.
If you feel that low vision or blindness is preventing you from working, you should talk to an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer as soon as possible.  Most Social Security Lawyers like me provide free legal consultation and don't charge any fees unless we are able to get benefits for you.  As you can see from this posting, Social Security Rules with respect to blindness can be quite complicated and it is never a good idea to go at it alone.