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Can I Get Disability for Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a medical term that actually describes a group of eye conditions that affect one’s sight. It often affects both eyes, and if left untreated, can result in total blindness.
English: Photograph showing acute angle-closur...

It is caused by a buildup of pressure inside the eye, called interocular pressure, resulting in a blockage that prevents the fluid inside the eyeball (aqueous humor) from properly draining. This buildup of pressure inside the eye can damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, and the nerve fibers of the retina, the light sensitive  lining at the back of the eye. It’s the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, thought to affect one out of ten people over age 80, and one of 200 people 50 years old or younger.

Loss of vision dramatically affects your ability to work, and you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you are diagnosed with glaucoma, providing you meet certain Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements, or listings:

Listing 2.02--Impairment of Visual Acuity

This means your vision in your better eye, after correction, can be measured at    20/200 or less. This applies whether glaucoma is present in one or both eyes.

Listing 2.03--Contractions of Peripheral Visual Fields in Better Eye

This is a measurement of your peripheral vision, determined by a peripheral field test. This test determines how much your glaucoma is affecting your ability to see things to the side, or your “side vision.” Criteria include inability to see things 10 degrees from looking straight ahead and vision limited to 20 percent of the total visual field (ahead and peripherally).

Listing 2.04--Loss of Visual Efficiency

This measurement shows your better eye is only 20 percent better than your bad eye

Listing 2.06--Total Bilateral Opthamoplegia

This condition causes the loss of muscle function in both eyes, making you unable to look around from side to side or up and down.

Even if your vision does not meet the above definitions of blindness, you may still be eligible for SSI or SSDI if you can prove the condition of your eyesight is so severe it prevents you from working in your current job, any job you’ve had in the past 15 years, or from being retrained in a new job because of your age, past work history, education or “residual functional capacity” to work.

“Residual” means what is left over; “functional” refers to your ability to perform work or in a work-like environment; and “capacity” refers to your ability to perform in a competitive work environment. If your residual functional ability, or what you are limited to do by your disability, is less than sedentary, for example, it means you are not able to even perform a simple, sit down, unskilled job eight hours a day and five days a week.

If you can prove your glaucoma prevents you from even performing the simplest of jobs, you can qualify for coverage. For example, if you are unable to perform secretarial or accounting work because you can’t see the computer screen in front of you or items around you, you could qualify.

The first step toward a successful SSI or SSDI claim is contacting a qualified attorney or an advocate specializing in Social Security Disability coverage. Working alongside legal and medical professionals helps you build a strong case, and can go a long way towards approval  and speed your way to getting the benefits you need and deserve.
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