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Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Vision Loss

Qualifying for Disability Benefits With Vision Loss

If you or someone you love has vision loss, you may be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for people who are unable to work due to a serious and long-term condition. Vision loss often qualifies for assistance, so long as your blindness prevents you from working and earning a steady income.

Medically Qualifying With Vision Loss

The SSA uses its own medical guide, known colloquially as the Blue Book, to determine if an applicant is eligible for Social Security disability benefits. There are a few listings for vision loss in the Blue Book.

The most straightforward way to qualify for disability is to prove that your vision is legally blind, or 20/200 or worse. This will automatically qualify for disability benefits.

If you’re not legally blind, there are still other ways to qualify, but you’ll need to take some standard tests first. The SSA will also approve people who experience contraction of the visual fields or loss of visual efficiency. Because the entire Blue Book is available online, you can review the listings with your doctor to see which exams you may need to take to qualify for benefits. The Blue Book outlines exactly what medical criteria are needed for approval, but it is best interpreted by an optometrist or another vision expert.

Better Eye and Best Correction

One important requirement to note for all of the vision loss listings is that the SSA will look at your test results “in your better eye” and “with best correction.”

This means that people who are blind in one eye or are even missing one eye will not qualify for disability benefits. While single-eye blindness does affect many people, if your vision is otherwise OK you will likely not be approved. The only exceptions to this could be people who require eyesight to do a job that can’t be modified, like firefighters or pilots.

You also will not qualify if your vision dramatically improves with the use of glasses or contacts. Only those with a true and severe vision impairment will be approved for disability benefits.

Starting Your Application

The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online on the SSA’s website. The SSA’s website is completely enabled for text readers so you should not have any difficulty with the paperwork, but if you do not use computers often a loved one can also apply on your behalf. If you’d prefer, you can also apply in person at your closest Social Security office. The SSA can be reached at 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment to apply in person.


Helpful Links:

SSA Website:

SSA Blue Book:

Qualifying for Disability Benefits With Vision Loss:

Vision Loss Blue Book Listings: - 2_02

SSA’s Office Locations:

SSA’s Online Application:

Article by Rachel Gaffney at Disability Benefits Help

Stay up to date on issues affecting blind and visually impaired Vermonters