BLINDNESS AND EARNING WORK CREDITS FOR SSD BENEFITS
SSDI and SSI benefits for the blind are available under SSA’s laws. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits due to blindness, you will need to provide evidence that shows you meet the visual listings. The visual listings for blindness include people who have been blind since birth. Learn more here about disability benefits for blindness.
In addition, it applies to those that have severe vision loss due to conditions like glaucoma, retinopathy, and traumatic injury. In fact, the blind can qualify for disability and still continue to work while receiving monthly benefits, provided they meet all requirements. On this website we have a list of Utah resources for the blind and those with visual loss.
SSD BENEFITS FOR THE BLIND FALL UNDER LISTING 2.00
Listing 2.00 contains a variety of ways to meet the criteria for blindness. If you meet the criteria the SSA will find you have a disability. However, in order to meet the listing, you must have specific testing. Most of the testing must be done by a ophthalmologist. For example, you may need to test your visual acuity or your visual field. These tests are crucial to obtaining benefits.
If you do not have a physician or you need your sight to be tested, the SSA will send you out for the proper tests. The SSA will send you to a visual specialist. These tests will be done at no cost to you. But, in order to obtain testing, you have to apply for benefits first. Go online to the Social Security website to apply for benefits. The SSA considers the following factors in reviewing a disability claim for blindness.
FACTORS THE SSA CONSIDERS FOR DEFINING BLINDNESS
LOSS OF CENTRAL VISUAL ACUITY (LISTING 2.02)
Listing 2.02 covers loss in your central field of vision and requires you see no better than 20/200 in your better eye.
A claimant can also be found disabled under the Social Security Act if their vision meets the criteria for “statutory blindness.” “Statutory blindness” is defined in the Social Security Act as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of corrective lenses. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the visual fields, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less.
If the listing is met, statutory blindness is established. However, if a visual impairment does not meet the definition of “statutory blindness,” consideration must still be given to whether the severity of the impairment is such that the individual may be “disabled.” For example, does the visual impairment prevents the individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Learn more about substantial gainful activity here.
Under Title 16 or SSI only, there is no duration requirement for “blindness.” If an SSI claimant is found to be financially eligible and is blind she can be paid benefits regardless of the anticipated duration of the blindness. Therefore, the 12 month duration requirement does not apply once “statutory blindness” is met.
CONTRACTION OF THE VISUAL FIELD IN THE BETTER EYE (LISTING 2.03)
You can qualify under this listing if you have a shrinking field of vision. Your doctor must measure your vision with specific tests and must record what you’re able to see when you’re focusing on a fixed point. This listing requires reports of your visual field, which is the distance in all directions from the fixed point on which you’re focused. That diameter must be no greater than 20 to 30 degrees. In other words, your visual field must be very narrow.
LOSS OF VISUAL EFFICIENCY OR VISUAL IMPAIRMENT (LISTING 2.04)
This listing covers issues that cause blurry or unfocused vision or absence of vision (total blindness). To qualify, you must have vision in your better eye that is no greater than 20/200 when wearing corrective lenses.
BLINDNESS AND EARNING WORK CREDITS FOR DISABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE
The visual listings can be very difficult to understand. In fact, you may call the SSA and tell them you are blind and can’t work. However, they may say you do not qualify to apply benefits because you do not have sufficient work credits. Therefore, they will claim you don’t have insurance and can’t get disability payments.
In other words, the SSA may say you are not “insured.” But, what if they are wrong? It is possible. The SSA calculates coverage differently for those who have certain visual impairments. Make sure you apply for benefits, even if the SSA tells you not to do so.
If you are blind, you should file a claim for SSD benefits. You may qualify for benefits even if you are blind and working. You should go to Social Security’s website and file a claim anyway.
Many SSA workers do not understand that the rules are different for those who are blind. If the person you talk to on the phone is wrong, then the only way to protect your rights is to file a claim for benefits. You cannot appeal an SSA decision, unless you file an application. All rights to disability benefits depend on you filing an application.
ASK THE SSA ABOUT A DISABILITY FREEZE – WHICH IS ANOTHER SSD BENEFIT FOR THE BLIND
The SSA has a special rule that may help you get higher retirement or disability benefits someday. You can use this rule if you are blind, but aren’t getting disability benefits now because you are still working. If your earnings are lower because you are blind, you may qualify for a “freeze.”
The SSA can exclude those low earning years when they calculate your Social Security retirement or disability benefit. Social Security benefits are based on your average lifetime earnings. Therefore, your benefit will be higher if the SSA doesn’t count the years you were not working. The SSA calls this rule a “disability freeze.” You need to contact the SSA if you want to file for this “freeze.”
ALWAYS APPEAL A DENIAL FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
If you cannot work due to a visual impairment or blindness, apply for disability benefits. After that, get an eye examination in order to prove you qualify for SSD benefits. When you submit medical records to the SSA, include all of your vision tests. It is possible for you to have visual testing that proves disability in the past.
At Cannon Disability, we have experience handling cases for those with visual disabilities. For instance, in one case, the SSA refused to let the claimant apply for benefits, even though he stated he was blind. The SSA claimed he was not insured for benefits. So, the SSA did not let him file his application for SSD.
However, due to the SSA’s special rules for the blind, he was in fact, insured. Because he had specific visual testing done prior to his attempt to file his application for benefits, he was able to show he met SSA’s disability criteria. Therefore, he was entitled to benefits when he first put in his application. So, he was able to win all of his back-due disability benefits. The lesson is that medical records, even old records, can win your disability case.
CANNON DISABILITY LAW WINS SSD BENEFITS FOR THE BLIND
If you have a visual impairment that prevents you from working, contact Cannon Disability Law. We are happy to help you file for benefits online. Also, we will help you appeal your benefit denials. We can help you apply for and win disability benefits in Utah or Nevada. Learn more Utah disability information here. Nevada disability information can also be found on our website. We also practice Social Security law in Idaho and California. Learn more about Idaho SSDI benefits here. You can hire us anywhere you live and we will come to you.
You can trust our experience. In the past 30 years, we have won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases for our clients. Our specialists can help you apply for SSI disability benefits using the SSA’s website. However, we will need your help to apply for SSI benefits. Why? Because only you know your personal information.
The SSA application requires your personal answers. However, we can explain how to apply. Likewise, if you need an appeal, we can help you do that too. There are also many forms to fill out. Don’t worry. If you have questions about these forms, we will answer them. Call us today. We want to be your disability legal team.