Legally blind people are unable to see but not necessarily be totally blind. The federal government uses the term 'legal blindness' to determine whether you can get certain benefits, like disability or job training.
How Does the SSA Define Blindness?
A 20/20 vision is considered as perfectly normal, i.e., if a person is able to see 20 feet away they are 0% blind. Whereas medically, the SSA defines legal blindness as a general blindness which is not essentially fully blind.
Blindness, in social security terms, is a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with best correction, or a limitation in the field of vision in the better eye so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle of 20 degrees or less.
Rules for Winning SSDI Benefits for Blind
The Social Security Administration offers employment support for disabled who want to return to work without losing their benefits. This is why the Congress included special language in the law specifically to make it easier for persons.
Documented Proofs Required to Establish Statutory Blindness
Unlike the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSDI is purely a merit-based benefits program. As a claimant, you need to meet both medical and non-medical requirements by the SSA to be eligible for SSDI. For blind, they need to be able to produce medical record stating the type and severity of their blindness. Moreover, the SSA may assign you a disability examiner who will need you to be examined by an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. There are two ways you may meet the medical requirements to qualify for disability benefits from social security:
- -Central Vision Acuity: As discussed above, it is your ability to look straight ahead clearly. Eligible claimants should have a central vision acuity score of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a corrective lens to be considered legally blind.
- -Vision Field Efficiency: If you are not considered blind following your central vision acuity test, then you will still need to be assessed by the SSA's definition based on your peripheral vision. Your visual field must be 20 degrees or less in your good eye to qualify.
**Remember, you need to have met one or both of these tests and prove that your legal blindness is expected to last for atleast 12 months or 1 full year.
Exception for Work Credits Needed for Blind
Although the SSA requires you to have worked for atleast 35 years before the onset of your disability and earned work credits 4 per year, there is an exception for the blind. If you're blind, you can earn credits anytime during your work years. Credits for your work after you become blind can be used to qualify for benefits if you don't have enough credits at the time you became blind.
Dependent's Benefits: If you don't have enough credits to get Social Security disability benefits, you are still eligible to earn disability benefits based on your parent's or spouse's Social Security record.
At times, even after meeting the requirement of legally blind, claimants would not receive benefits because they are still working and earning above the substantial gainful activity. So, for years your earnings drop below the income limits, the SSA would include those months in your retirement benefits or social security disability and pay you the equivalent amount in the future when you meet the SSDI criteria for blind.
For more legal help, you can contact our disability attorneys at Law Office of Irene Ruzin.