Most would agree that loss of eyesight is a serious problem in almost any work environment. However, not everyone with limited sight is eligible for disability benefits. The government has developed specific standards to determine how much sight loss makes people eligible for SSDI benefits.
Social Security Administration regulations contain a number of rules known as “listings” that qualify people for benefits who have significant but less than total vision loss based on any medical condition. When it comes to vision, it is important to note that the SSA will always base determinations on vision in someone’s better eye (assuming that vision is better in one eye).
Loss of Central Visual Acuity (Listing 2.02)
The first basis for qualifying is “central visual acuity.” This simply refers to how clearly people can see what is in front of them.
The SSDI rules provide that someone is disabled if they have vision of 20/200 or worse even with the help of glasses or contacts. Again, this is based on vision in the better eye.
Loss of Peripheral Vision (Listing 2.03)
A significant loss of peripheral vision, in other words having a very narrow field of vision, is another basis for qualifying. Someone qualifies as disabled if he or she can see no more than 20 degrees when looking at a fixed point ahead (there are also two additional, but more complicated, measurements that can qualify people based on loss of peripheral vision).
Loss of Visual Efficiency (Listing 2.04)
Finally, people can qualify for SSDI based on loss of “visual efficiency,” which combines measurement of central visual acuity and peripheral vision for a measurement of your overall quality of vision.
Qualifying for SSDI without Meeting a Listing
If someone has suffered significant vision loss but just misses qualifying under a listing, it may still be possible to qualify based on residual functional capacity (RFC). Nonetheless, this can be difficult especially if the person is still relatively young and has no additional disabling conditions. One can qualify based on his or her RFC if they can show that one’s medical condition has made it such that there is no remaining job market left for them.
If you have suffered significant vision loss and have had Social Security Disability benefits denied, please contact the SSDI attorneys at Hawks Quindel to assist with your appeal.
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