The listings for visual impairments falls under Section 2.0, “Special Senses and Speech” of the Medical Listing of Impairments. To qualify for benefits, you must be declared as having statutory blindness, assessed by the SSA as follows:
- What are visual disorders? Visual disorders are abnormalities of the eye, the optic nerve, the optic tracts, or the brain that may cause a loss of visual acuity or visual fields. A loss of visual acuity limits your ability to distinguish detail, read, or do fine work. A loss of visual fields limits your ability to perceive visual stimuli in the peripheral extent of vision.
- How does the SSA define statutory blindness? Statutory blindness is blindness as defined in sections 216(i)(1) and 1614(a)(2) of the Social Security Act (Act).
- The Act defines blindness as central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. The SSA uses your best-corrected central visual acuity for distance in the better eye when we determine if this definition is met. (For visual acuity testing requirements, see 2.00A5 under SSA’s Disability listings.)
- The Act also provides that an eye that has a visual field limitation such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees is considered as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. (For visual field testing requirements, see 2.00A6.)
What Evidence Must You Provide To Qualify?
In order to have your visual disorder evaluated, you will need to provide an eye examination report which includes accurate measurements of your “best-corrected central visual acuity,” or the best level at which you can see while using corrective lenses. The SSA states,
If you have visual acuity or visual field loss, we need documentation of the cause of the loss. A standard eye examination will usually indicate the cause of any visual acuity loss. A standard eye examination can also indicate the cause of some types of visual field deficits. Some disorders, such as cortical visual disorders, may result in abnormalities that do not appear on a standard eye examination. If the standard eye examination does not indicate the cause of your vision loss, we will request the information used to establish the presence of your visual disorder. If your visual disorder does not satisfy the criteria in 2.02, 2.03, or 2.04, we will request a description of how your visual disorder affects your ability to function.
How is Your Visual Efficiency Calculated?
Your visual efficiency is calculated by combining your visual acuity efficiency and your visual field efficiency and expressing that combination as a percentage.
For more in depth explanations of those values, tables of visual acuity and field efficiency, answers to remaining questions, and for more information regarding the availability of Social Security Disability benefits for persons who have experienced a loss of vision, you can visit the SSA homepage for Special Senses and Speech.
Something to Take Away
Without your vision, it can be very hard to go back to normal life and to return to the career that you previously enjoyed. Sometimes visual impairments are temporary, but often they are long lasting or permanent. In either case, feel free to call and ask us about how we can help you receive the Social Security Disability Benefits that you have already paid for and earned. You shouldn’t have to worry about recovering physically and financially. So, if you qualify for SSDI, we will do everything we can to help you receive the benefits you deserve.