Medical Evidence Needed to Qualify for Vision Loss

If you have experienced vision loss that is affecting your ability to work and you’re planning on filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits you will have to submit medical evidence with your claim to prove that your vision loss is substantial enough that it impacts your ability to work.

Whenever you file a claim for Social Security disability benefits you will have to prove that you meet the medical requirements for disability benefits that are listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book.

Qualifying Via the Blue Book

Every condition that qualifies someone to receive disability benefits has a listing in the Blue Book. Each listing contains a very specific set of criteria that someone who is claiming disability benefits must meet in order to be eligible for disability benefits. To prove that you meet the criteria you will have to submit medical evidence.

The Blue Book listing for vision loss states that in order to qualify for disability benefits because of vision loss you must meet one of these conditions:

  • Loss of central visual acuity – this listing covers loss in your central field of vision and requires you see no better than 20/200 in your better eye.
  • Contraction of the visual field in the better eye – you can qualify under this listing if you have a shrinking field of vision. Your doctor must measure your vision with specific tests and must record what you’re able to see when you’re focusing on a fixed point. This listing requires reports of your visual field, which is the distance in all directions from the fixed point on which you’re focused. That diameter must be no greater than 20 to 30 degrees. In others words, your visual field must be very narrow.
  • Loss of visual efficiency, or visual impairment – this listing covers issues that cause blurry or unfocused vision or an absence of vision (total blindness). To qualify, you must have vision in your better eye that is no greater than 20/200 when wearing corrective lenses.

To prove that you meet these conditions you will first need to submit a doctor or optometrist’s diagnosis. You will also need to submit the results of eye tests, MRI scans, and other tests given your doctor or eye doctor.

Some of the most common eye tests given to document various types of limited vision and vision loss include:

  • Automated Perimetry
  • Frequency-Doubling Perimetry
  • Electroretinography
  • Cycloplegic Refraction
  • Visual Evoked Response

Your eye doctor will be able to give you a more precise list of the tests that would be appropriate for your particular situation.


Filing A Claim

You can file a claim for yourself on the SSA’s website but you will need electronic copies of your health records and test results to submit with your claim.

Or, you can go to the closest SSA office and make an appointment. At your appointment a customer service rep at the social security office will walk you through the claim process, answer your questions, and help you submit you documentation.

Additional Resources

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