If you or someone you love experiences vision loss, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly resources for people who are unable to work. If your vision loss prevents you from working, you may be eligible for help. In fact, if you’re earning less than $1,220 per month, you could still qualify for benefits, as the SSA has higher income limit thresholds for people who are blind.
Medically Qualifying With Vision Loss
The SSA will refer to its own manual of criteria for disability, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when determining if someone is eligible for Social Security disability benefits. There are three separate listings for vision loss, and some listings have more than way to qualify. You could qualify for SSD benefits if you meet any of the following criteria:
- Your remaining vision is less than 20/200
- The widest diameter you can see around a fixed point is no more than 20 degrees
- You have an MD of 22 decibels or greater
- You have a visual field efficiency of 20% or less
- You have a visual impairment value of 1.00 or greater*
While some qualifications are straightforward, others will require additional eye exams to determine eligibility. Fortunately, the entire Blue Book can be found online, and your doctor can review the vision loss listings to see where you may qualify. The Blue Book also goes into detail on how your doctor can measure your MD score, your visual field efficiency, or your visual impairment value.
Better Eye/Best Correction
It’s important to note that the SSA will only review medical records of your vision loss based on your best eye. This means that people who experience vision loss in only one eye or those who are missing one eye will likely not qualify unless they have a job that cannot be modified to support a career with vision loss, such as a policeman or a pilot.
You also will not qualify if your vision improves dramatically when wearing glasses or contacts. You’ll essentially need to show that you’ve tried to work with vision loss and have no other options to improve your eyesight.
Starting Your Application
The easiest way to apply for disability benefits with vision loss is online on the SSA’s website. You can do so from the convenience of your own home. The SSA’s website is optimized for people who experience vision loss, but if you’re unable to type for an extended period of time a loved one will be able to help you with the process. If you’d prefer, you can always apply in person at your closest Social Security office. Contact the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment to apply in person.
- SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov/
- SSA’s Blue Book: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm
- Qualifying with Vision Loss: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/vision-loss-and-social-security-disability
- Vision Loss: https://www.vaeye.com/service/
- SSA Closest Office: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/social-security-disability-locations
- SSA’s Online Application: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib
-  https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm#2_00A6d
-  https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm#2_02
-  https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm#2_00A8d