Social Security Benefits for Visual Impairments
Is your vision limiting your ability to work? There are many causes of blindness and vision loss. These may include disease, abnormalities of the eye, problems with the optic nerve, and injury to the brain. The most common causes of vision loss in the U.S. are:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has the same criteria for all visual disorders, regardless of the cause.
When evaluating an applicant for Social Security Disability (SSDI), the SSA considers visual acuity and visual field in the eye with the best vision.
- Visual Acuity: The clearness or sharpness of your vision. A loss of visual acuity will affect your ability to read or see details. The SSA defines statutory blindness as a visual acuity of 20/200 or less when using a corrective lens in the better eye.
- Visual Field: Your visual field is the amount of area that you can see while focusing on a central point. A loss of visual field affects your peripheral vision. To qualify for SSA benefits for vision loss, one must have a visual field of no more than 20 degrees.
One may also qualify for SSDI based on a loss of visual efficiency. Visual efficiency refers to skills such as color perception, depth perception, eye movement, eye focusing speed, and eye coordination that affects a person’s ability to understand and interpret what is seen. To qualify for Social Security benefits, one must have a visual efficiency of 20 percent or less after correction.
What if you don’t meet these guidelines, but your vision is still too poor to work? You may be able to qualify for SSDI for a visual impairment based on your functional limitations; however, you will need to document exactly how your vision loss and other medical conditions impair your ability to work.
Concerned? Our Boston disability attorneys can help you through the SSDI application process. The first step is to schedule a free consultation with one of our New England SSDI lawyers. To schedule an appointment, contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.
Need more information about SSDI? Request a free copy of John Keefe’s book, Five Most Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability.