Blindness and Disability
The strict definition of “Blindness” used by the SSA requires a claimant to have visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in their better eye with use of correcting lens; or to have a visual field limitation in their better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
The Social Security Administration (“SSA” or “the Administration”) oversees two types of disability programs; both SSDI and SSI. The non-medical eligibility requirements for both of these programs are very different, but the medical portion, specifically the definition of “blindness”, is exactly the same.
Non-Medical for both SSDI and SSI
Prior to ever looking at your medical records, SSA will first determine whether or not you meet the non-medical criteria.
The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“FICA”) is a payroll tax that is taken out of almost everyone’s paycheck. FICA taxes go toward various things, but the program we are most interested in is the SSDI program.
As a result of these mandatory taxes, you are likely paying into SSDI every time you receive a paycheck. By doing this, you are essentially purchasing an insurance policy that protects you in the event that you become disabled.
In order to meet the non-medical criteria, you must accumulate enough work As you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits that count toward your eligibility for future Social Security benefits. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year. Most people need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. Younger people need fewer credits to qualify for disability or survivors benefits. More. In 2022, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $6,040 you will have earned the maximum of 4 credits for the year.
Generally speaking, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year your disability began. Essentially you need to have worked 5 of the last 10 years and a total of 10 years in your lifetime. These requirements are reduced for younger individuals who are unable to meet these rules simply due to the fact that they have not been of working age for that duration.
SSI is a needs-based program. In order to qualify for A federal supplemental income program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It helps aged, blind, and disabled people who have limited income and resources by providing monthly cash payments to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. For more information, see Supplemental Security Income (SSI). More benefits you need to have a financial need. SSA will look at your income and assets to determine whether or not you have income or resources over the allowable amount. There are many exceptions, but generally speaking the allowable amounts are $2,000 for an individual or a The term "child" would be a child that can inherit your personal property under state law. Including adopted child, equitable child, stepchild, dependent grandchild or step-grandchild in your care. More and $3,000 for a couple.
Medical for both SSDI and SSI
What is “blindness” for an adult or a child applying for either SSDI or SSI?
The strict definition of “Blindness” means that you have visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or less in your better eye with use of correcting lens; or you have a visual field limitation in your better eye, such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
The Administration has three specific listings for blindness. In order to be disabled at step three of the 5-step process, your vision impairment needs to meet or equal one of those three specific definitions.
If you have a visual impairment, but do not specifically meet or equal one of those listings, you may still be eligible for SSDI or SSI if you can show that your impairment prohibits you from performing work. This is the question a decisionmaker has to answer at step five of the 5-step process. If a decisionmaker determines there is no work you are capable of performing as a result of your condition, you are disabled. Claimants over the age of 50 who do not meet or equal a listing should look to take advantage of the grid rules.
What is required to qualify for SSDI due to “blindness”?
In order to qualify for SSDI due to blindness, you will need to be examined by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. In most instances, the Administration will be able to obtain medical records from your treating physicians. These records will be used to determine whether or not your conditions meet the definition provided above. In some circumstances, your medical records may not be enough to make that determination.
If you fall under this scenario, the Administration is likely going to send you to a “Consultative Examination”. CE’s are performed by doctors who contract with the SSA to perform independent medical exams. You will be given a vision test, which will help the decisionmaker determine whether or not your condition(s) satisfies one of the listings. If you do not meet or equal a listing, the decisionmaker will use the results of the CE to help assess how your condition would impact your ability to perform other jobs in both the regional and national economy.