This post discusses Social Security Disability for the blind. Statutory blindness is treated differently from other impairments by Social Security. But even if you do not meet the statutory definition of blindness, you still may be found disabled. Read on for information on the differences.

First, we must discuss how Social Security defines statutory blindness. Blindness is defined under 2.02 Loss of Visual Acuity OR 2.03A Contraction of the Visual Field in the better eye.

  • 2.02    Loss of Visual Acuity.   Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.
  • 2.03    Contraction of the visual field in the better eye, with: A. The widest diameter subtending an angle around the point of fixation no greater than 20 degrees

If an individual meets one of the above two listings, there are special rules that apply. It is easier for a blind individual to return to work or work for the first time; there is no duration requirement if you are statutorily blind (Social Security’s basic definition of disability requires an impairment to last or be expected to last for 12  months or result in death)- this does not apply to the blind; and substantial gainful activity is at a higher amount than for non-blind individuals (Blind is $2,110 in 2020, while non-blind is $1,260). Look here for more information.

The issue for most people comes when they do not meet the above listings, but are still unable to work due their vision loss. In my practice, I have seen vision loss that happens over a long period due to an underlying autoimmune disorder and occasionally the cause of the vision loss is never established. Some other causes of vision loss are: glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and retinal detachment. Vision loss is terrifying, no matter the cause.

Even if you do not meet one the above two listings, there are other ways that you can be found disabled based on your vision loss (2.04 Loss of Visual Efficiency is an example but most people will not meet this listing either). Vision loss in one eye, alone, usually does not result in a finding of disability but if you have additional impairments in combination with your vision loss you may be found disabled. Another consideration is visual acuity: are you able to perform tasks that require near or far visual acuity?

All work requires use of vision and if you are unable to see well enough to perform tasks, you may still be found disabled even if you are not found “statutorily blind.” The first step is to file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible and call the Bishop Law Firm. We want to help!

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