Arkansas residents come to us wondering if their visual impairments make them eligible to receive SSDI benefits. Depending on the scope of your vision loss, you could potentially qualify for benefits from the SSA because of your condition.
An Arkansas Social Security disability attorney at Denton & Zachary can advocate your case to hopefully improve your chances of receiving disability for blindness.
What Are Common Disorders of the Eye?
There are a number of vision disorders that can impact your ability to see clearly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vision loss affects 4.2 million Americans over the age of 40. Disorders can range from mild to severe and can include the following:
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
Some eye conditions develop gradually. Others can happen suddenly, such as if you experience a laceration near your eye or a traumatic brain injury. Regardless of the impairment you have, vision loss can be a blow to your self-esteem. It can also prevent you from doing things comfortably and safely.
Does Being Legally Blind Qualify for Disability?
The Social Security Administration considers you legally blind if you have a maximum of 20/200 vision in your better eye that doctors cannot correct. Similarly, if your better eye cannot see past 20 degrees, you are also considered blind. If you have a temporary vision impairment, you may still qualify to receive disability for blindness if your condition lasts longer than 12 months.
There are three main types of impairments:
- Permanent: This includes blindness that results from a disease or traumatic injury.
- Temporary: A temporary vision impairment could happen if you sustain an eye injury that will eventually heal completely.
- Situational: Sometimes you may experience sensitivity to light due to genetic conditions or because of other health conditions.
Even if your vision loss is not as severe as in some cases, the use of corrective lenses might not be enough to improve your condition to a point where you can work.
What Disability Benefits Are Available?
The type of benefits you qualify for varies depending on the severity of your condition and other variables specific to your situation. SSDI benefits for the blind may include the following:
You may qualify for an allotted amount of financial support each month to alleviate some of the financial strain you may experience because of your condition and your inability to pursue a career. The SSA will require you to periodically update your records to ensure you continue to meet the requirements for receiving benefits.
The SSA also offers incentives if you wish to return to work once you reach a point where you can safely and reasonably start working again. You will want to make sure you fully understand the requirements for working while receiving disability, so you do not unknowingly compromise your benefits.
How Do You Apply for Disability for Blindness?
The application process to receive disability for vision loss requires time and attention to detail. You can begin the process online or by visiting your local Social Security office. The application will require details about your condition. You will need to provide medical proof, as well as a description of how your condition impacts your day-to-day life.
Once you submit your application, officials will review everything and determine if your disability qualifies for benefits. They will then notify you of a decision. It could be some time before your benefits begin. Starting the application process as soon as you can and making sure you fill out the paperwork in its entirety could improve your outcome.
Can Someone Who Is Blind Work and Still Receive Benefits?
Depending on what caused your vision impairments, you may reach a point where you can safely return to work. Alternatively, you could still have other valuable skills that enable you to maintain a job, while still having impaired vision.
Returning to work does not mean you automatically surrender your benefits. In fact, the SSA encourages you to work and provides incentives to improve your experience. For example, you can receive up to $2,460 each month as of 2023 even while working if you qualify. This is substantially higher than the benefits provided each month to workers with disabilities who do not experience blindness.
When you choose to pursue a job, make sure you inform the SSA of your intentions. Returning to work without the proper clearance and then continuing to collect your benefits could have costly consequences. Communicating regularly with the SSA will ensure you follow all required protocols to legally maintain your benefits.
Contact an SSDI Attorney in Arkansas
Vision impairments can take a toll on your quality of life and your self-esteem. Even if you can continue working, your condition could prevent you from capitalizing on your career. If you need assistance in the form of disability for blindness, enlist the help of an attorney at Denton & Zachary to guide you through the process. Contact us today at 501-273-1695 or fill out the form online to get started.
FAQs About Vision Impairments and SSDI
How can vision loss impact your quality of life?
Vision loss can make a tremendous impact on your life, including your ability to have a career, maintain relationships and enjoy the things you love. Blindness increases your fall risks and can make it impair your ability to decipher colors and depth. Sensitivity to light could make day-to-day activities uncomfortable and stressful. Sometimes you may need ongoing medical treatment to mitigate the impact of your vision loss.
Can you appeal the SSA’s decision?
If the SSA denies your application, you have the right to file an appeal. You will need to follow the instructions for doing this, which may require you to submit additional information about your condition. You can collaborate with your doctor to add context to your application prior to submitting the information in hopes of receiving disability for blindness.
Can you receive SSA benefits if you are not legally blind?
You may still qualify for SSA benefits, even if you are not legally blind. If your vision loss affects your ability to work, you will be eligible for benefits. To receive SSDI benefits, you must have worked for an extended period of time in a job with Social Security taxes. To receive SSI benefits, your resources need to be under certain limits. In the state of Arkansas, this limit is $2,000 for individuals, and $3,000 for couples.