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How to Qualify for Low Vision Disability Benefits - Everything One Must Know

People with vision impairment or vision loss could qualify to receive social security disability benefits. It's important to understand the qualifications for getting SSD benefits, and this blog will help victims understand the condition and determine if their visual impairment might be covered. Let's learn more.

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits with Low Vision

Qualifying for SSDI Benefits with Low Vision

Low vision is a condition in which a person suffers from vision impairments. They're permanent and cannot be corrected with contacts, medications, surgical procedures, or glasses. Typically, it results from a medical condition, but it might be from aging naturally. Regardless, the victim cannot work or perform normal tasks at their job. Therefore, they could be eligible for social security disability benefits. Larrimer & Larrimer can advise on the average workers comp eye injury settlement.

What SSDI Offers

SSDI offers wage replacement benefits if one cannot work fully because of the low vision. Sometimes, it provides a vocational allowance for those who continue working, which will offset the additional income they could have earned if they weren't impaired.

It's often important to hire workers compensation attorneys to help with SSDI benefits, ensuring that victims get what they deserve. Larrimer & Larrimer can advise people on the requirements and offer legal guidance when filing claims and filling out forms.

What's Low Vision?

The NIH (National Institutes of Health) claims that low vision is a permanent impairment, often caused by age, injury, or disease, such as macular degeneration. People aren't considered legally blind, but it will impact their ability to perform tasks that require sight, including writing, reading, driving, running errands, and working.

Typically, vision loss is common, and a person's visual acuity could lead to legal blindness as time progresses. Larrimer & Larrimer can help with questions like, "How do most eye injuries happen at work?"

Signs of Low Vision

There are many signs of low visual acuity, such as:

  • Problems cooking, reading, watching TV, and performing routine tasks

  • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

  • Having trouble reading store signs, street signs, and interpreting traffic signals

  • Perceiving spaces as dark or dim, even when they are brightly lit

  • Problems choosing matching clothing

  • Difficulty with peripheral vision (being unable to see out of the corners of one's eyes)

Concerns About Low Vision

Though not legally blind, being visually impaired means that Lasik surgery, medications, contacts, and glasses will not improve the condition. Likewise, vision loss will get worse with time and could lead to macular degeneration and other diseases. Therefore, it's crucial to see an optometrist or doctor when noticing any of the symptoms listed above. Complete vision loss is possible if not caught early enough.

The Requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Low Vision

The Social Security Administration (SSA) might offer income replacement benefits when one suffers a disability that impacts their ability to work. These can include SSI benefits (Supplement Security Income) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Both programs are federally funded, though SSI is on a needs basis, and SSDI is insurance based on the taxes paid as an employee. This means the person's work history will come into play.

Typically, the SSA will look at a person's medical records to determine the progression of the vision loss. This will help them ensure that the person will qualify for disability benefits.

There are two tests to complete. A recent work test focuses on the person's date and age they stopped working because of the disability, and the duration of work test focuses on how long the person was employed. The local Social Security office determines eligibility based on various factors, such as:

  • Medical records

  • Central visual acuity (covering loss of central field of vision)

  • Contraction of the better eye's visual field

Typically, doctors will run various tests, such as the residual functional capacity, which focuses on functional limitations. This includes the inability to read, drive, and shop.

Federal law states that disabilities are conditions that prevent one from working for one year or longer or that will eventually result in death. Generally, one fills out an application for benefits, has a medical assessment, and someone determines if they are covered and eligible.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Visual Impairment

The SSDI requirements for visual impairment and blindness are different than other disabilities. One could be eligible if they have 20/200 vision in an eye that can't be corrected or have visual fields of 20 degrees or lower in the better eye. This can be caused by:

  • Diabetic retinopathy

  • Macular degeneration

  • Glaucoma

  • Cataracts

Determining if one meets SSDI requirements is based on the information in medical evidence, such as optometry, hospital, and doctor records. This includes diagnostic testing for vision loss.

What If One Is Not Approved for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If one's condition doesn't meet the requirements for social security disability benefits for vision impairment, one could be entitled to receive a medical vocational allowance if the impairment is severe enough to prevent them from performing SGA (substantial gainful activity) to do their job.

Working with Vision Loss - How SSDI Can Assist

One doesn't have to be considered legally blind to receive disability benefits for visual impairments. If they're approved for SSDI, the SSA offers incentives to help them work despite the vision loss. These are available for those with any disability, but vision impairment incentives are more flexible and allow higher earnings. Here are the stipulations:

  • If one receives SSDI because of vision impairment, they could earn significant amounts of money while receiving benefits.

  • When one is self-employed or owns their own business and gets SSDI, the SSA won't evaluate the hours worked as it does for other disabilities.

  • Those over 55 years old and earning above the income limit will have their benefits suspended instead of terminated fully. This might allow them to receive SSDI during months when income levels fall below the limit.

How a Social Security Disability Attorney Can Assist

How a Social Security Disability Attorney Can Assist

Getting disability benefits because of vision loss is a confusing and complicated process. It's essential to work with an attorney to gather appropriate information and assist with filing the claim.

Contact Larrimer & Larrimer in Columbus, OH

One could qualify for disability benefits and be unaware of it or not know how to start the process. Being legally blind is not a requirement, and vision loss could cause the inability to work and do normal activities.

It's best to speak with a lawyer at Larrimer & Larrimer. Request a free consultation by calling (614) 820-1855 today!

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