As many Missourians have learned, determining whether a particular illness or injury qualifies a person for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can often be difficult. One exception to this generalization is blindness, or limited vision. If a person submits an SSD claim predicated on blindness or limited visual acuity, and if the person’s visual test results meet the SSA requirements, the person immediately qualifies for SSD benefits.

The Social Security Act defines blindness as either loss of visual acuity or a reduced field of vision. To qualify for disability benefits based on statutory blindness, one of the two conditions must be satisfied.

A loss of visual acuity limits the ability to read, distinguish detail or do fine work. Blindness due to loss of visual acuity is defined as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye using a corrective lens.

A reduced field of vision limits the person’s ability to detect and respond to visual stimuli in the peripheral field. A visual field limitation is considered blindness if the widest angle subtended by the field of view is no greater than 20 degrees.

To qualify for disability benefits based on statutory blindness, one of the two conditions must be satisfied. Other vision conditions that produce effects equivalent to reduced visual acuity or reduced visual field are evaluated according to other standards.

The SSA will usually accept the results of standard eye tests, such as those administered when a person is fitted for glasses or contact lenses. The SSA regulations explain in detail which tests will be accepted and which will not. In all cases, the tests must be administered by a medical professional who is licensed to administer the tests.

While the requirements for determining blindness as the basis for disability benefits are fairly straightforward, the assistance of an attorney who specializes in SSDI benefits cases can be helpful in obtaining the proper vision tests and in assembling employment records to prove disability.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security 2.00 Special Senses And Speech – Adult,” accessed on Oct. 9, 2016