Of all the special senses human beings are blessed with, we probably rely on vision more than any other. So when our vision is disrupted, our lives are too. The simplest of tasks can become difficult. And holding a job in the field we are trained for may become impossible.

Disability Benefits For Blindness

As Massachusetts disability attorneys, we know that if you are legally blind, applying for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits can seem just as impossible as keeping your job does.

While the numbers vary, the Americans With Disabilities website estimates that a total of ten million Americans are visually impaired. They also cite other estimates asserting that one million adults over the age of 40 are blind and 2.4 million of that age are visually impaired. 

Additionally, the Americans With Disability Act uses the following conditions to qualify any vision impairment as a disability:

  • A major life activity is limited. Major life activities are those that a sighted person can “perform with little or no difficulty.”
  • An individual has a past history of “substantially limiting impairment.”
  • An employer sees the employee as having a “substantially limiting impairment.”

SSA Definition of Statutory Blindness

The SSA has its own definition of statutory blindness (also called legal blindness). Your disability must meet certain requirements to be considered a qualifying condition for SSA disability benefits. According the the SSA disability listing of impairments, and the Social Security Act, the definition includes the following:

  • Your visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye, even when wearing a corrective lens, and/or;
  • You suffer from a visual field limitation in which the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees. This condition qualifies you for the 20/200 or less requirement above.

To establish statutory blindness with the SSA, you will need to present evidence showing that the above conditions are true. However, you do not need to document the cause of your blindness. Also, legal blindness can mean that you still have some sight. You may still be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog and still be considered legally blind.

How SSA Disability Benefits for Blindness are Different

When you qualify for statutory (or legal) blindness, the rules for SSA disability benefits are different than most other qualifying conditions. Because being blind usually severely affects your ability to work, the monthly earnings limit is usually higher than the limit for non-blind disabled workers. This limit for the year 2012 is $1,690.

It is important to note that if you do not meet the SSA disability requirements for the legal definition of blindness, you may still qualify for benefits if your vision problems alone or your vision problems along with other health problems make it impossible for you to work.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer