July is UV safety month and organizations around the nation are doing their part to inform the public about the dangers of UV light. What many people don’t realize is that no matter how much sunscreen you lather on, if you’re not protecting your eyes from those harmful UV rays you may be putting yourself at risk of a visual impairment. UV rays can harm your eyes just as easily as they can harm your skin and harm to your eyes can lead to drastic changes in your life. Unfortunately, millions of Americans live with visual impairments that prevent them from performing any substantial gainful activity. There are, however, certain visual disabilities that qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits, taking off some of the financial strain that such a disability can cause. The following information will help you understand how a visual disability may qualify you for monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
When an individual applies for Social Security Disability benefit, the SSA refers to what is called a “Blue Book” which contains a listing of qualifying impairments. Unlike many other conditions listed in the Blue Book, vision loss is not broken down into different categories for the different types of vision loss an applicant may be experiencing. Instead, the SSA focuses on the measurable loss of visibility that a person is suffering from which may result from any condition that leads to vision loss.
When a person is applying for Social Security Disability benefits based on a visual impairment there are three factors that the SSA takes into account. These things include the remaining visual acuity in the applicant’s better eye, the level of peripheral field contraction in the better eye and the loss of visual efficiency of the better eye. This means that if one of an applicant’s eyes does meet the SSA standards for a visual disability but the other eye has better sight and does not meet the standards, the applicant will not be approved for benefits from the SSA.
In order for a claimant to qualify for disability benefits due to a visual impairment, the individual’s eyesight must be 20/200 or worse after visual correction. This means that if a person is prescribed glasses and/or contacts and while wearing the visual correction aids still has eyesight of 20/200 or worse, he or she can qualify for disability benefits from the SSA – as long as both eyes meet the requirements and not just one.
If you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits and are denied because of the vision loss in your “better eye” that does not mean you should give up hope. You may still be able to obtain the disability benefits you need if you can prove that your disability does indeed interfere with your ability to perform work activity. This is called a medical-vocational allowance. In such a case, your initial application for benefits is denied and you must appeal the SSA’s decision to deny your benefits. This is best done with the help of a disability attorney.