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Receiving Social Security Disability benefits if you are blind

My son has been Disabled since 1999 receiving SSDI and SSI benefits. His condition continues to deteriorate from his multiple medical issues. One major issue is his Bilateral Optic Atrophy which has digressed to his becoming legally blind in both eyes. I heard that in order to received SSDI benefits for blindness, he would of had to have been legally blind when he originally applied. Is this true. Thank you.

A person can receive disability benefits based on blindness if their visual condition is considered "stat blind" or statutorily blind. So, what does that mean? There are two ways of being considered stat blind and, thus, eligible for disability based on blindness.

The first is that you have a severe loss of visual acuity. The loss must be severe enough that, after the best correction has been made by prescription lenses, the vision in the better of the two eyes is no better than 20/200.

Now, some people will immediately think that 20/200 vision is not so bad because their own vision is 20/200 or worse. But--what I just said is that the individual's vision must be at least this bad even with glasses, at best correction. Which, from anyone's point of view, is very very bad.

The second way of meeting the stat blind requirement for receiving disability based on blindness is by proving that there has been a severe contraction of peripheral vision that limits the visual field.

At this point, I will include the language from the SSA disability listings manual, which for most people, unfortunately, will sound like gobbledygook. However, the basic point is that, yes, you can get disability for blindness as long as it meets this criteria. Obviously, this must be based on documented evidence of severe vision loss.

From the SSA listings manual:

"You have statutory blindness only if your visual disorder meets the criteria of 2.02 or 2.03A. You do not have statutory blindness if your visual disorder medically equals the criteria of 2.02 or 2.03A or meets or medically equals the criteria of 2.03B, 2.03C, 2.04A, or 2.04B because your disability is based on criteria other than those in the statutory definition of blindness.

2.02 Loss of Central Visual Acuity. Remaining vision in the better eye after best correction is 20/200 or less.

2.03 Contraction of the visual field in the better eye, with:

A. The widest diameter subtending an angle around the point of fixation no greater than 20 degrees;"

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

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  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    The SSDRC Disability Blog

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Getting disability in North Carolina

    Related pages:

    Blind in one eye and a Learning Disability, Do I have a Case?
    Receiving Social Security Disability benefits if you are blind
    Legally blind with retinitis pigmentosa, can I also file for disability?
    Getting approved for disability based on being blind
    Macular Degeneration and Filing for Disability
    Retinitis Pigmentosa and Filing for Disability
    Glaucoma and Filing for Disability
    List of Impairments for Social Security Disability and SSI Benefits
    What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?

    Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

    These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

    Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
    What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits?
    How do you find out if a Social Security disability claim has been approved or even denied?
    Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
    How much does Social Security Disability or SSI pay?
    How does the Social Security Disability Review work?
    What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
    More differences between Social Security Disability and SSI