Disabled workers may apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Disabling conditions range from arthritis to HIV to cerebral palsy. However, the Social Security Administration rules are slightly different for workers who are blind or have low vision. Blindness does affect your SSDI claim.
What qualifies as “blindness?”
Generally, someone who applies for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits has to meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability:
“The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
For someone with vision problems, the SSA uses the following criteria to determine if they qualify for SSDI or SSI:
- Vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the applicant’s better eye; or
- Applicant’s visual field is 20 degrees or less for a period that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months.
Someone with poor vision may still qualify for SSDI benefits if their vision prevents them from working.
How does being blind affect SSDI eligibility?
Disabled workers must have earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. At least some of those work credits must have been earned in a certain time period before the worker became disabled.
However, blind persons usually can count work credits earned at any time during their lifetime. In addition, if the blindness set in before the individual has enough work credits, they may qualify because of a parent or spouse’s earnings.
What is the disability freeze?
Some workers are blind and still able to work. However, they earn less because of their vision problems. The years when income is lower can be excluded when calculating their retirement or disability benefits later in life. To take advantage of the disability freeze, contact the Social Security Administration.
A Disability Attorney Can Help Every Step of the Way.
Blindness even affects a disabled worker’s substantial gainful activity limits. While a non-blind worker can earn $1220 per month before risking their SSDI, a blind individual may earn up to $2,040.
For a free consultation with an experienced Social Security attorney, consult with an attorney at The Law Offices of Martin Taller. Call us at 714-385-8100. We assist clients through Southern California from our home office in Anaheim.