If you are blind or have partial vision loss, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Depending on the circumstances of your particular situation, you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are also some special rules that apply to the blind when applying for these benefits.
The Definition of Blindness
The Social Security Administration considers a person to be legally blind if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or if your visual field (peripheral vision) is less than 20 degrees.
Even if your vision does not meet this strict standard, you still may qualify for benefits if your vision problems or the combination of poor vision and other health conditions prevents you from working.
Qualifying for Benefits
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough to have paid tax credits into Social Security. Blindness qualifications are different than for other conditions, however, in that you can earn credits anytime during your working years including time after you became blind.
SSI benefits are reserved for low income individuals who do not have to have worked and paid into Social Security to receive benefits.
There are some additional special rules for the blind:
- In some states it may be possible to earn a higher state supplement to SSI payments.
- Legally blind claimants are able to continue working while receiving benefits so long as their earnings do not exceed $1,820 a month in 2015. That amount is higher than the earnings limit for other disabled workers who cannot make more than $1,090 a month.
- Blind claimants can qualify for a disability freeze if your income declined significantly as your vision deteriorated. This allows for your most recent, lower earnings to be excluded from the calculation of your average lifetime earnings, giving you a higher average and allowing you to receive higher benefits.
If you are blind or have partial vision loss and have been denied the disability benefits you need, our Phoenix disability benefits lawyers can help. We will guide you through the appeals process and help you get the benefits you deserve.