Disability Benefits for Blindness
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “blindness” as a visual acuity of 20/200 or less (“legally blind”), with the use of a correcting lens. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, the blindness must be in both eyes If you are blind in one eye, but you have better than 20/200 vision in the other eye, you may not qualify for benefits under SSA guidelines.
In addition to loss of acuity, you may qualify for a disability award if you have a visual field restriction (“tunnel vision”) to the extent that the widest diameter of the visual field is 20 degrees or less.
The length of time you have had “blindness” is not a factor in awarding benefits.
The documentation that is required includes a report of your visual acuity and/or visual fields and the cause of the loss of vision. While the cause of your blindness doesn't determine whether benefits will be granted, the medical records must include a diagnosed “cause” in order to receive benefits.
Some of the more common causes of blindness include diabetes mellitus, macular degeneration, traumatic injuries, infections of the cornea or retina, glaucoma, amblyopia (“lazy eye”), strabismus, uveitis, stroke, optic neuritis (e.g., related to multiple sclerosis), retinitis pigmentosa, and retinal detachment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 11 million Americans aged 12 years and older could improve their vision through proper refractive correction. More than 3.3 million Americans aged 40 years and older are either legally blind (having best-corrected visual acuity of 20/200 in the better-seeing eye) or are with low vision (having best-corrected visual acuity less than <20/40 in the better-seeing eye, excluding those who were categorized as being blind).
Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.
As of 2012, 4.2 million Americans aged 40 years and older suffer from uncorrectable vision impairment, out of which 1.02 million who are blind; this number is predicted to more than double by 2050 to 8.96 million due to the increasing epidemics of diabetes and other chronic diseases and our rapidly aging U.S. population.
Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. Nearly 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these eye injuries.
An estimated 61 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months.
The annual economic impact of major vision problems among the adult population 40 years and older is more than $145 billion.
Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children.
Early detection and timely treatment of eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy has been found to be efficacious and cost effective.
90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable.
Vision loss causes a substantial social and economic toll for millions of people including significant suffering, disability, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life.
National and state data show that more than half of adult Americans who did not seek eye care are due to lack of awareness or costs; which often exacerbated by lack of adequate health insurance.
More than 70% of survey respondents from National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP) 2005 Public Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices survey consider that the loss of their eyesight would have the greatest impact on their day-to-day life; however, less than 11% knew that there are no early warning signs of glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
Your disablity lawyer must work closely with your treating physician to get the proper documentation of your specific findings and impairments into the medical records. At Law Med that's what we do.