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How to Qualify for Social Security Disability with Vision Loss

Bosma Enterprises - 5/10/2019 8:00:00 AM

If you have suffered from vision loss so severe that it keeps you from working, you might be eligible to receive monthly Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two different disability programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Every year there are thousands of disability claims that are denied, so you need to gather supporting documentation that details the severity of your condition so Disability Determination Services (DDS) can confirm your inability to work. If you are unable to earn a living because of your vision loss, you should apply for disability benefits.

The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if an individual is considered disabled per SSA guidelines. There is a listing pertaining to vision loss, and if you meet those established criteria, you may be approved for disability benefits.

The Medical Criteria to Qualify

There are three different listings that involve vision loss in the Blue Book. If you meet the criteria for any one of these listings, you are medically disabled per SSA guidelines. Here are those three listings and their requirements:

Listing 2.04 – This listing refers to Visual Efficiency or Visual Impairment and involves vision that is blurry or doesn’t focus or the complete absence of vision. To qualify using this listing, your vision should not be any better than 20/200 in your better eye even with the assistance of corrective lenses.
Listing 2.03 – This listing involves the Contraction of the Visual Field, which involves a shrinking field of vision in your better eye. Your doctor will be required to perform specific tests to determine your vision field and to record what you see as you focus on a specific point. The visual distance and your visual field will be measured from all directions. If your visual field is found to be narrow, not exceeding 20 degrees, then you qualify with this listing.
Listing 2.02 – This listing involves the Loss of Central Visual Acuity, which involves the loss of vision in one’s central visual field. To meet the listing criteria, your better eye cannot have vision that exceeds 20/200.
Meeting A Medical-Vocational Allowance
If your vision problems don’t meet the criteria of a listing, you can still be approved using a medical-vocational allowance if you are unable to work because of your condition. This approach uses your symptoms, side effects, educational background, age, work history, and skills to determine if you are unable to work. Your physician will complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) form to determine if you are able to work and will list all restrictions and limitations.
Applying for Disability Benefits
If you have vision loss that keeps you from working, you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits. There are two options of doing that. You can apply in person at your local SSA office or you can apply online at the SSA’s website. If your vision loss makes it challenging to fill out the application yourself, you can have someone, like a loved one or friend fill out your application for Social Security disability benefits on your behalf. It generally takes between three and five months to hear back from the SSA regarding whether your application was approved or denied.
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