Facts about Glaucoma and Filing for Disability

These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.

  • Filing the Application for disability benefits

  • Applying for disability with Glaucoma

  • Blind in one eye and a Learning Disability, Do I have a Case?

  • How to qualify for disability

  • Receiving Social Security Disability benefits if you are blind

  • Qualifications, Requirements and Criteria for disability

  • Legally blind with retinitis pigmentosa, can I also file for disability?

  • How to win your disability benefits

  • Getting approved for disability based on being blind

  • Facts about the condition

    1. Glaucoma refers to several diseases (glaucoma and a variety of optic neuropathy conditions) that cause damage to the optic nerve, resulting in loss of eye sight.

    2. It is the second most common cause of blindness. Glaucoma is the 'silent' or 'sneak' thief of sight, as there is no pain or any other symptoms, and loss of eye sight sometimes happens so gradually that the disease is not recognized until it is in an advanced stage.

    3. There are two primary categories of glaucoma ' open angle and closed angle. Open angle is the chronic, slow progression glaucoma that may not be recognized for a long time. Closed angle glaucoma is often sudden and painful with rapid loss of vision, but these noticeable symptoms usually motivate patients to see a doctor and often avoid permanent damage.

    4. Although there are rarely noticeable symptoms of glaucoma, eye doctors can screen for the disease through regular check-ups. Intraocular pressure, visual field, and the optic nerve can all be examined during those visits to look for signs of glaucoma. These tests look for high pressure in the eye, loss of side vision, and slight change or damage to the main nerve in the eye.

    5. If detected early, glaucoma can be managed and damage can be halted.

    6. Glaucoma is primarily treated by lowering the intraocular pressure in the eye. The first and most common treatment step is eyedrops, followed by oral prescriptions, neuroprotective drugs, and finally surgery. Surgery is usually considered for those who cannot tolerate the medications or if the medications do not help their glaucoma.

    7. Those over the age of 60 are most likely to develop glaucoma. Roughly one in 10 people over the age of 80 have glaucoma, while only about one in 200 have glaucoma under the age of 50.

    Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition

    Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.

    This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.

    In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.

    Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.

    The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).

    Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?

    There are several reasons but here are just two:

    1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.

    Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.

    2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.

    About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

    Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

    Social Security Disability in North Carolina

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI

    Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions

    What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

    How to get disability for depression

    Getting disability for fibromyalgia

    SSI disability for children with ADHD

    What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

    Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

    What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

    Related Body System Impairments:

    Blepharospasm and Filing for Disability
    Glaucoma and Filing for Disability
    Macular Degeneration and Filing for Disability
    Meniere's Disease and Filing for Disability
    Optic Neuritis and Filing for Disability
    Tinnitus and Filing for Disability
    Vertigo and Filing for Disability
    Glaucoma, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
    If you apply for disability in New Mexico
    Getting a Disability Lawyer in New Mexico