In some ways, Social Security disability is the same for people who are blind and people who have other disabilities, but in other ways, Social Security disability is significantly different for people who are blind.
Who Is Considered Blind According to the Social Security Administration?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) applies special rules to people who are blind. According to the SSA, a person is blind and special rules apply if a person has central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best correction or a visual field of 20 degrees or less in the better eye.
Your condition must be expected to last for at least 12 months, which is the same standard for all conditions that qualify for Social Security disability.
Three Special Rules for Social Security Disability Applicants Who Are Blind
Below are some of the special rules that apply to Social Security disability applicants who are blind:
- You can make more money and remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits if you are blind. Substantial gainful activity refers to the amount of money that you can earn each month and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The dollar amount changes annually. However, you can earn considerably more if you are blind than you can for any other medical condition. For example, in 2021, people who are blind may earn up to $2,190 a month and still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. People with all other medical conditions may only earn up to $1,310 a month to remain eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Additionally, people who are blind and over the age of 55 may only have their disability benefits suspended rather than terminated if their income exceeds the substantial gainful activity threshold.
- You can spend more time working your own business if you are blind. If you are blind and self-employed, then the Social Security Administration will not consider the amount of time you spend working at your own business. You can work as much as you want as long as your income does not exceed the substantial gainful activity level. However, if you are not blind, then the number of hours that you can work per month is limited.
- You can exclude quarters of low earnings from your Social Security consideration if you are blind. People who are blind and keeping working have an option available to them that people who are not blind do not share. If you are blind and choose to keep working, then you can ask the Social Security Administration for a disability freeze if you aren’t making as much money as you did before you became disabled. A disability freeze will exclude the time when you were making less money from your future Social Security benefits.
Vision is the only disability with special Social Security disability rules.
Two Things That Are the Same for All Social Security Disability Applicants
There are a few things that are the same for all Social Security disability applicants, including blind applicants. Regardless of your disability:
- You must apply for Social Security disability benefits. All applicants must apply for Social Security disability benefits. Each application must be complete, accurate, and have the required supporting documentation.
- You have the right to work with an experienced and local Social Security disability lawyer. Many initial Social Security applications are denied. Some of these denials occur because of application mistakes that could have been avoided with the help of an experienced lawyer. Our attorneys can help you avoid this type of problem. We only represent people in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont. We know how to handle New England Social Security disability claims from the time of the initial application through any necessary appeals.
Our Greater Boston Social Security disability lawyers work hard to help all of our clients, with any qualifying disability, get the fair benefits they’ve earned. It won’t cost you any more to work with us than it would a non-attorney representative. We encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free consultation in our Natick office or by phone.