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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;"

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

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