You may have partial or complete blindness, thinking it automatically qualifies you for disability benefits. As a claimant, you may have the view that you having problems with your hearing or vision, having to use a hearing aid or glasses are enough for you to qualify for SSDI. Infact, you're not considered legally blind or completely deaf if you do not meet the full medical and non-medical requirements for the blind.
SSDI for Blindness or Deafness
If your disability examiner (DE) assigned by the SSA feels that you don't meet its requirements for legal blindness or requirements for profound deafness, you would be denied SSDI. However, there is an exception to this rule.
If your vocational expert or general physician is of the view that your blindness or deafness affects your daily functioning levels, then your disability examiner will have your whole medical record and work history to determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). Hence, the Social Security Administration would determine if you're able to perform daily activities or to function at work. Your disability examiner would then evaluate if you could take up certain skilled, semi-skilled or non-skilled jobs to earn an income under substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Effect of Residual Functional Limitation (RFC) on Your SSDI
It is very important to complete all medical information including proper documentation for your SSDI application. The SSA may need some of all of the following information to determine your eligibility for SSDI benefits:
- - Information about your physical or mental impairment(s);
- - Dates of treatment and the kinds of treatment you may have ever received from your doctor;
- - Any other medical resources you may have utilized;
- - Names of each prescription and non-prescription medicine you may have taken;
- - The kind of medical tests you have had and the effect/result they had on your impairment;
- - Names, dates and places of all types of work you may have done in the last 15 years before you became unable to work due to your illnesses, conditions or injuries, including your daily duties for the type of work you did and why your employment ended;
**Note that all of your work information including work history, the employers you worked for and the types of work will be used to determine the effect of your residual functional capacity on daily life. As a matter of fact, if you do not meet the requirements for visual acuity or loss of peripheral vision, then you may qualify based on your residual functional limitation or (RFC form) for blindness.
The SSA would, with the help of a vocational expert, would review the functional restrictions your doctor has put in your medical record. For instance, if your physician determined your visual acuity to 20/70 or worse, then your doctor may have noted in your file that you have been advised not to drive. For instance, if your regular job was a bus conductor, and you have a loss of vision in one or both eye, then you may not be able to continue it. So, social security would look at your age, education and experience to see if there is another job you can do. However, if you have little to no formal education or skills, then your DE would determine that there is no other job you might take up. However, unless you're 55 or above, or reached full retirement age, this possibility is a little grave. That is because, it's never too late to learn new skills when you're young. For legally blind, the DE would recommend finding jobs that don't require driving.
Your RFC form for legal blindness would also include specific restrictions on the types of work you can't do because of your poor vision. For instance, your RFC may include:
- -Not being able to work near hazardous machinery due to poor peripheral vision;
- -No operating hazardous machinery or driving (requires visual acuity worse than 20/70);
- -Not being able to work at unprotected heights (again due to poor peripheral vision);
If your DE finds out that you can take up your previous job according to the RFC you've been given, then you would be denied SSDI. On the other hand, the social security would consider your RFC along your age, education and experience to determine whether there are any other jobs you can be expected to do that don't require good vision.
Getting Help from a Professional
The SSA has grid rules to determine whether a claimant is eligible to qualify for medical vocational allowance based on their residual functional limitations, age, work history, education and experience.
Navigating around the process of SSDI benefits is complicated and any mistakes on providing the right evidence may result in delays or cancellation of your SSDI benefits. Hence, we suggest you consult our professional disability attorneys to help get you SSDI benefits based on your legal blindness.