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Blindness and Social Security Disability Benefits

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Several conditions may cause blindness or lack of sight in disability claimants which may make it impossible for them to continue to work and may make them eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Conditions which can be considered disabling if they are severe enough include:

  1. Glaucoma - most common are open angle and closed angle pressure builds up in the eye and causes damage to optic nerve or retina.

  2. Cataract - clouding of the lens of the eye.

  3. Diabetic Retinopathy - caused by diabetes it affects the circulatory system of the eye.

  4. Paraneoplastic Retinopathy - the rods of the eyes are affected causing visual loss.

  5. Hypertensive Retinopathy - caused by hypertension.

  6. Macular Degeneration - Caused by age the middle of the retina is damaged.

  7. Retinitis Pigmentosa – An eye disease which is inherited and affects the cones and rods.

  8. Optic Neuropathy - Insufficient blood flow to the optic nerve.

  9. Melanoma – Generally occurs in the iris and choroid.

How Can I be approved for disability for blindness by the Social Security Administration?

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for disability blindness you must either meet the listing outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in their Listing of Impairments (your condition must meet or exceed the listing in severity) or you prove that your eye condition is so severe that you have no residual functional capacity to work either your current job, previous jobs or retrain for new work.

The Social Security Administration has a process called a medical vocational allowance which will analyze your residual capacity to work. Using this process they will consider your age, work history, medical condition, and education prior to determining if you can retrain for new work. Under this process it is generally easier for older claimants to win benefits because the Social Security Administration will assume they would have a tougher time retraining for new work.

The Social Security Administration Listing of Impairments for disability blindness

Social Security disability blindness is found in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments under 2.00 Special Senses and Speech. Under this section there are several listings which address specific eye conditions.

Listing 2.02 Impairment of Visual Acuity

Vision in the better eye after correction is 20/200 or less.

Listing 2.03 Contractions of peripheral visual fields in better eye

A.  To 10 degrees or less  from point of fixation; or
B.  So the widest diameter subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees; or
C.  To 20 percent or less visual field efficiency

Your peripheral vision can be measured by a Peripheral Field Test.

Listing 2.04 Loss of Visual Efficiency

The visual efficiency of better eye is 20 percent or less after correction.
This listing deals with the loss of both visual acuity and peripheral vision loss.  In your records make sure your doctor has calculated your visual efficiency.

Listing 2.06 Total Bilateral Opthamoplegia:

The loss of muscle function in both eyes.

Misconceptions for disability blindness

Many Social Security Disability claimants do not realize that they will not be considered disabled if their vision can be corrected or if they are blind in only one eye. For more information about the information you may need to win Social Security disability benefits for disability blindness, contact a disability lawyer.
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