How is blindness defined for Social Security disability purposes?

by Jan 7, 2017

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Due to income reasons or other reasons, some people who are blind and cannot work may choose to file for Social Security disability benefits, rather than Supplemental Security Income. However, it is important that they meet the statutory definition of blindness before proceeding.

The definition of statutory blindness can be found in sections 216(i)(1) and 1614(a)(2) of the Social Security Act. Blindness, for the purposes of Social Security disability benefits, is defined as a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the person’s best eye while using a correcting lens.

The Social Security Administration, in determining whether an applicant meets this definition, utilizes the applicant’s best-corrected central visual acuity for distance. In addition, a person for disability purposes may be considered blind if one eye has a visual field limitation so that the widest diameter of said field has an angle that is not more than 20 degrees.

Per the Act, a person doesn’t meet the statutory definition of blindness if the above elements are not met. A person’s medical records will be examined, specifically for information documented in an eye exam. However, there is not any sort of durational requirement to be considered per the Act.

While some people who are blind may be able to live a full life, others find that it limits their life considerably. They may not only find it results in an inability to work, but they might also find it difficult to complete everyday tasks. When this happens, individuals with blindness may want to consider seeking Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can be the lifeline for those with blindness who need financial assistance to make ends meet.