The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict medical evidence standards for proving disability with any medical condition. You can explore the list of medical conditions for disability approval here. To document blindness or severe visual impairment, there are specific vision exams that must be completed. The types of test and the required results vary based on the kind of vision issues you experience, but the following vision exams should be considered prior to applying for Social Security Disability (SSD).
Confrontation Visual Field Exam
Typically one of the first vision tests conducted when you complain of sight issues, the Confrontation Visual Field exam measures peripheral vision. An eye doctor conducts the exam by asking you to cover one eye, focus on a fixed point in front of you, and state when you are able to see an object that is moved into your view.
The doctor starts at the edge of the perfect vision field and moves inward slowly and in standard increments toward the center. The point at which you are able to see the object is the edge of your visual field for the uncovered eye and gives the doctor your maximum field of vision measurement for that eye.
Tangent screen and Goldmann field exams are two of the most common methods used with Confrontation Visual Field exams.
Eye specialists use automated perimetry exams to measure your full field of vision and find any faults or blind spots. During an automated perimetry test, you sit in from of machine and stare at a fixed point in front of you. You are then asked to push a button any time you see a flash of light. The machine generates a map of your results, allowing the doctor to know where you have blind or low vision defects in your full visual field.
Perimetry exams that use frequency-doubling technology give eye specialists even more information about the nature and extent of visual defects. The exam is conducted in the same manner as all other automated perimetry tests but instead of showing only flashes of light, pairs of lines appear in your visual field.
For patients with good vision, these pairs of lines look like four lines instead of just two. Retinal defects make it so patients do not experience this optical illusion. The machine measures and maps your results. The map providing eye specialists a detailed report of where your retinal responses are impaired in your field of vision.
This test measures the response of your retina to light stimuli. Specifically, the exam presents patterns of light and captures measurements of the electrical activity in your retinal cells and the surface of your eyes.
This testing method temporarily paralyzes eye muscles to allow visions specialists to get a clear reading on visual field and general vision performance. Tests performed using cycloplegic refraction are not required by the SSA but can be helpful in proving blindness in certain cases, especially those involving children.
Visual Evoked Response
Flash and pattern visual evoked response exams measure the function of the optic nerve and the visual cortex of the brain, both of which can play a role in vision loss in patients with certain medical conditions. This test produces a map of electrical activity, similar to that generated by the Electroretinography exam, only it gives eye specialists detailed information about nerve function rather than retinal performance.
Preparing to Apply and Getting Help with Your Claim
An application for benefits that is missing key pieces of medical evidence can be denied by the SSA. Build a strong case for disability by doing your homework before applying and by collecting the necessary medical records.
Get your test results and other medical records from your eye specialist(s) and provide the SSA copies at the time you apply. If your vision issues are severe but do not make you legally blind, you may want to consider hiring an attorney to assist you with your claim, including helping with any appeals that you may need to file.
Social Security Disability benefits provide monthly compensation that you can use to cover the cost of living expenses.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must meet specific medical criteria that shows you are unable to work and earn a living because of your vision loss. SSDI benefits are based off your earning history from your employment.
Connect With An Attorney Today
If vision loss has impacted your ability to work and you want to pursue a claim for disability benefits, complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to have your details shared with a local Social Security attorney or advocate who can help you with the claims process.