Partial Sight

If you have poor vision, such as partial sight, you may qualify for disability benefits. To qualify with partial sight or poor vision, you will need to meet a Blue Book listing. Those with 20/200 vision in their better eye may be eligible for benefits. If you do not meet a Blue Book listing, you may still be able to qualify under a medical vocational allowance. 

A report released in 2015 by the National Health Interview Survey stated nearly 24 million American adults experienced some type of vision loss. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established guidelines that define eligibility for disability benefits for Americans with partial sight.

If your vision measures 20/200 in the stronger eye, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The medical conditions qualifying you for financial assistance include glaucoma, retinopathy, and suffering from a traumatic injury.

You may be eligible to receive $3,345 each month. Fill out a Free Disability Evaluation today!

Partial Sight--What is it?

Partial sight is a condition where one’s visual capability is limited. It can occur due to trauma or disease and it cannot be easily corrected by the use of eyeglasses or medication. In addition, various disorders can lead to low vision or partial sight, including retinal degeneration, cataracts, corneal disorders, albinism, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Low vision can also be a result of brain and nerve disorders, birth defects, and inherited diseases.

Symptoms of low vision can include:

  • Night blindness
  • Hazy vision
  • Loss of central vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of peripheral vision

Low vision cannot be completely treated or corrected, but various methods can help, such as the use of eyeglasses or magnifiers.

Qualifying for Benefits with Partial Sight

If you have poor or partial eyesight, you might be able to qualify for disability benefits. The qualification depends on eyesight in both eyes, and if you are considered legally blind. You are considered to be legally blind if your vision cannot be corrected to be better than 20/200 in your “better eye.”

Your “better eye” is the eye that is less affected by your visual problems and can see better than the other eye. For one to be considered legally blind, the better eye is considered. Specifically, if the better eye is cannot see better than 20/200, even when it is corrected with a corrective lens, then you would be considered legally blind and you could qualify for social security disability benefits.

To qualify for disability benefits with partial eyesight:

  • Your better eye is considered
  • The medical history of your eyes is considered
  • The visual capacity of your remaining eyesight is considered

If the capacity of your remaining eyesight hinders you from performing any meaningful activity or any income generating work, then you can qualify for disability benefits provided you are legally blind.

If you are not legally blind, you can still qualify for some benefits, in the form of a medical vocational allowance. To qualify for the allowance, it must be shown that your poor vision has left you with reduced functionality to the extent that you can no longer engage in the work that you used to do and you cannot engage in any other work in order to earn an adequate living.

To qualify for benefits through the Social Security Administration, you will have to provide medical histories to show that you have been suffering from partial sight for more than 2 years or that you are expected to continue to suffer from partial sight for more than 2 years.

In addition, you will have to provide your treatment records to show that treatments have not worked and that your condition indeed hinders you from engaging in any meaningful activity or income-generating work.

Is Wearing Glasses a Disability?

Wearing glasses to compensate for partial vision loss does not automatically make you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA defines disability for vision loss in a medical guide called the Blue Book. Your physician can help you understand the criteria used by the SSA to define vision loss as a disability. Wearing glasses does not match any of the criteria listed in the Blue Book for vision loss.

The Blue Book lists the severity of symptoms you must match for vision loss in Section 2.0. Under Section 2.02 of the Blue Book, loss of central visual acuity requires a disability applicant to prove a measurement of 20/200 in the better eye. Contraction of visual strength can qualify you for vision loss benefits under Section 2.03 of the Blue Book. Section 2.04 lists the issues that cause blurry vision or the absence of eyesight.

The key to proving you suffer from a vision loss disability is to present the result of tests that measure the strength of your stronger eye. Nowhere in the Blue Book does it state that simply wearing glasses can get a disability claim by the SSA. Therefore, the answer to the question, “Is wearing glasses a disability” is clearly no.

Blind in One Eye Benefits

The SSA does not determine eligibility for disability benefits by measuring the visual acuity of the weaker eye. Instead, the federal government agency measures the visual acuity of the stronger eye to determine which applicants qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If the vision of your stronger eye does not match the 20/200 visual acuity test, then you might not be eligible for financial assistance.

Failing to meet the 20/200 visual acuity standard for your better eye does not mean you cannot get a disability claim approved by the SSA. The SSA provides claimants with the opportunity to qualify for financial assistance in the form of granting a medical vocational allowance. Eligibility for the SSA to grant you a medical vocational allowance involves demonstrating that you deserve blind in one eye benefits because your job requires perfect or near-perfect vision.

Some professions such as those in the healthcare and construction industries require workers to possess visual acuity that measures greater than 20/200 in the stronger eye. For example, a healthcare worker who analyzes the results of diagnostic tests needs to possess visual acuity that is much higher than 20/200 in the stronger eye.

To become eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you have to provide the SSA with your medical history. The report must show you have suffered from partial sight for more than two years or your healthcare provider expects you to suffer from partial sight issues for at least the next two years. In addition to providing the SSA with your medical history, you also have to prove that treatments have not reversed your vision loss problem.

Why You Need a Disability Attorney to Help with Your Partial Sight Disability Claim

It is not always easy to get disability benefits if you have low vision. This is because, although common, low vision or partial sight may not necessarily qualify as legal blindness. One has to be legally blind in order to qualify easily for the social security disability benefits.

To ensure that you have an easier time when you are claiming benefits based on partial sight, it is important that you have a disability attorney or disability advocate who can help you with your claim. If you are not legally blind, a disability attorney will help you prove that you are actually unable to engage in any meaningful activity or income-generating job as a result of your low vision.

A disability attorney also will help to show that your functionality has been indeed limited as a result of your low vision. Further, if the Social Security Administration denies you for disability benefits, your disability attorney will help show that you need medical vocational allowance.

You may need a disability attorney:

  • To help prove you are impaired
  • To help you in case of an appeal
  • To help ensure you get all your benefits

Get a disability attorney to ensure that you receive the benefits you deserve, because medical histories and treatment records do not always readily show that you qualify for disability benefits.

Additional Resources

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