A number of issues with the eye, the optic nerve, or even the brain may lead to blindness, low vision, or other conditions. These vision impairments may make it difficult or impossible to do your job. If you suffer from a loss of visual acuity or a narrowing of your visual field, you may meet the qualifications to receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.
At Berger and Green, our Pittsburgh disability lawyers can help you determine if you meet the criteria to receive these benefits. We know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for when they evaluate a claim and can help you apply for benefits. If the SSA denied your claim, we can help you navigate the appeals process and secure the benefits you deserve.
Call us at 412-661-1400.
Does my vision impairment qualify as a disability?
The SSA publishes a listing of health conditions and the related criteria you must meet to qualify for disability benefits. Under “the Blue Book,” these listings outline the degree of vision impairment you must experience to meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.
According to the criteria from Section 2.00 – Special Senses and Speech, you may qualify for benefits if you:
- Cannot score better than 20/200 in your better eye with glasses or other corrective measures; or
- You have a visual field of 20 degrees or less in your better eye; and
- This condition will last a year or more.
You may still qualify for SSD benefits even if you do not meet these criteria. Vision impairments can have wide-reaching effects on your ability to work. A loss of visual acuity can prevent you from reading, writing, or doing any work that requires attention to detail. A limited visual field can cause safety issues and prevent you from doing tasks that require hand-eye coordination.
If you do not meet the qualifications outlined in the impairment listings, we may be able to make a case to the SSA regarding your limited ability to work. The SSA will review your medical records and may even arrange an examination with one of its doctors to learn how your vision impairment affects your mobility, independence, and ability to do your job. If they decide your vision impairment severely limits your ability to work and you meet other qualifications, the SSA may approve your application.
What type of documentation does the SSA need to evaluate my vision impairment?
The SSA will not take your word for it that you cannot see well enough to work. When you file your claim, they will ask for the contact information of your healthcare providers and then contact those doctors and specialists to collect documentation to support your claim. Berger and Green can help ensure the SSA receives your doctors’ information so they get the documentation they need.
The SSA will look for records that show poor corrected central visual acuity in your best eye, measurements of your visual field in your best eye, and visual measurements for your other eye.
We recommend you give us a call before you file your application with the SSA. We know what the SSA is looking for and can help you understand whether you may qualify for benefits. Call us at 412-661-1400.
Are there other qualifications I must meet to receive SSD benefits for vision impairment?
Many people focus on meeting the medical criteria for disability and overlook the other qualifications to receive benefits.
You can only receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you have enough work credits and have paid into the Social Security program for long enough. The number of work credits you need depends on how old you are, but generally workers over the age of 31 need at least 20 credits. SSDI also has a strict earnings limit, known as the substantial gainful activity limit. This limit is higher for blind applicants than for others who qualify because of other health conditions. If you are blind, you can earn up to $1,950 per month for 2017.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an income-based benefit, so the income limits are lower than the limits of the SSDI program. The qualifications for SSI include an income of less than $735 per month and available resources of $2,000 or below for an individual.
When we review your claim, we can look into your earnings, assets, and work history to see which program you might qualify for.
What can I do if the SSA denies my claim?
It is not unusual for the SSA to deny a claim. Even after receiving a denial, you may still receive approval for the benefits you deserve. However, you need to act quickly to ensure you retain the right to appeal a denial. Give us a call at 412-661-1400 and let us help you secure the benefits and back pay you deserve.
We have 60 days from the date you receive your denial letter to request an administrative law hearing and dispute your denial. We can review your application and identify any mistakes or issues. We can help you correct any problems and prepare for your hearing.
During the appeals hearing, we present your claim and all supporting evidence to an administrative law judge. In many cases, this is enough to gain our clients the approval they deserve. If not, we can help you decide whether or not to take the next step in the appeals process.
Berger and Green Can Help You Secure SSD Benefits for Vision Impairment.
At Berger and Green, our lawyers help disabled individuals apply for SSD benefits or appeal a denial. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to learn how we can help you get the benefits you need.