by Cendy Moliere
If your vision loss has progressed to a point where you’re no longer able to work, financial assistance may be available to you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly financial aid to people in need. While vision loss won’t always automatically qualify, thousands of people are eligible for benefits that can help pay for medical bills, assistive technology, housing modifications, credit card bills, and any other daily living needs.
Medically Qualifying for Benefits
- Your vision is 20/200 or worse.
- The widest angle you can see around a single fixed point is no more than 20 degrees, OR you have an MD score of 22 decibels or greater, OR you have a visual efficiency percentage of 20 or less.
- You have a “visual impairment value” of 1.00 or greater.
The Blue Book was written for medical professionals, so it’s completely understandable if you have no idea whether you qualify after skimming the Blue Book. The entire resource is available online, as are thorough details on how the SSA calculates your MD score, your visual efficiency percentage, and your visual impairment value. You can review the listings with your doctor to determine if you qualify.
Best Eye and After Best Correction
It’s important to note that you must be legally blind or have severe vision impairments in your best eye. This means that people who are blind in one eye or who are even missing one eye will likely not qualify for disability benefits unless they have a job that can’t be modified to suit single-eyed vision, such as policemen or pilots.
You’ll also need to prove that you’ve attempted to correct your vision through the use of glasses, contacts, or potentially surgery (although that’s not required), but still do not have good vision.
Starting Your Application
The easiest way to apply for disability benefits is online on SSA’s website. The SSA site is optimized for electronic readers and other assistive devices, but if you prefer, you can always ask someone to apply on your behalf. You can also call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 if you’d rather have a representative help you with the application process. From there you can schedule an appointment to apply at your closest Social Security office.
American Council of the Blind: https://acb.org/
SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov/
SSA Vision Loss Blue Book Listings: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm - 2_02
Qualifying with Vision Loss: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/social-security-disabling-conditions/vision-loss
SSA Office Locations: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability
SSA’s Online Application: https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib