Blind individuals encounter certain daily difficulties that most of us cannot imagine. Without the ability to properly see, blind people may struggle with very basic activities. Fortunately, there is hope. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a number of accommodations for persons who are blind. An applicant who is blind may be eligible for certain assistance from the SSA.
When applying for benefits, blind applicants must be careful. Although some applicants may have problems seeing, not all such problems are considered “blindness”. The SSA has specific criteria for defining blindness.
There are special rules for people who are blind or have low vision.
Meeting SSA Blindness Criteria
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has established important guidelines for blind individuals seeking disability benefits. Both children and adults must meet the same criteria to be considered blind. However, social security applicants may also receive disability benefits if vision problems, and other problems, are significantly debilitating.
How To Obtain Benefits For The Blind
The Social Security Administration (SSA) deems an applicant to be legally blind if his or her vision cannot be improved to better than 20/200 in the better eye. This Social Security Disability Blind In One Eye caveat is especially important.
The SSA also applies another technical criterion. If an applicant has a visual field limitation in the better eye, he or she may meet the “blindness” definition. Such field limitations include the subtending of the visual field to an angle less than 20 degrees.
Some applicants who qualify as blind may still be able to function and move around. In fact, a number of blind claimants use canes and service dogs.
Applicants who fail to meet the legal definition of blindness may still qualify for benefits. Some applicants can receive social security benefits under the SSA’s “disabled” definition. In some cases, vision problems and disabilities combine to prevent work.
This threshold of work is called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
Blind people who qualify for social security are subject to special rules. These rules take into account the severe limitations of blindness. When a person is blind, he or she must adapt to an entirely different lifestyle. Blind persons face struggles that non-blind persons never will.
This is why the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes certain exceptions for blind people. One way in which the SSA helps is by increasing the amount of substantial gainful activity that a blind person is allowed to engage in.
The Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) threshold factors an applicant’s monthly earnings. If an applicant exceeds the threshold, he or she will not qualify for disability benefits. Blind applicants are allowed to make more than non-blind applicants. As of 2018, a blind person may average monthly earnings of $1,970 or below and still qualify for benefits.
The SGA level changes every year to match changes in general wage levels. By law, the monthly earnings limit usually increases each year if the Consumer Price Index For Workers increases.
Financial Burdens of Blindness
Blindness and low vision are more prevalent than people realize. The National Health Interview Survey finds that roughly 24 million people age 18 and older have reported vision loss. Vision loss is a problem that can significantly change the course of a person’s life.
However, legal blindness is even worse. Legally blind individuals become blind for a number of reasons. Some individuals have been born with blindness. They have never seen the world and have suffered the disability from birth. People who are blind from birth comprise only a portion of the blind community.
Some blind applicants for social security are struggling from illness. Other blind persons became blind due to serious injuries.
People also become blind from disabling conditions, such as:
Overall, blindness is very problematic. Blind persons must manage both medical costs and lifestyle changes. In fact, people who are born blind have to adapt in a number of ways. These adaptation expenses can be very high.
Blind people must often completely overhaul their daily living arrangements. These changes include modifications to homes, as well as adaptive technologies. Blind persons must also pay for transportation. Oftentimes, a person who is blind cannot travel far without assistance. Service animals can cost tens of thousands of dollars to raise and train.