Houston Social Security
Disability Attorney

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Photo of David Dopkin

How is blindness defined under Social Security disability rules?

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2016 | Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Blindness touches millions of people throughout the United States, some of whom live in the Houston area. According to 2013 data from the National Federation of the Blind, more than 7.3 million non-institutionalized people ages 16 and older have some visual disability. But not all of those people are necessarily completely blind. So what is the vision threshold when it comes to determining whether a person is legally blind for purposes of disability benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is one form of assistance that is available to people who are blind. The Social Security Administration considers a person blind if the vision in their better eye is 20/200 or worse, and cannot be corrected to higher than that level. Thus, even people who have some ability to see may still be eligible to apply for SSI benefits.

Although people who qualify as legally blind under Social Security may not be completely blind, this does not always mean that they can hold down a full-time job. In today’s high-tech society, having a visual disability can pose some serious obstacles when it comes to working a job. Furthermore, some people who have a visual disability also suffer from some other disability, which can also make it difficult for them to work a regular job.

Benefits like SSI are designed to help people who may not be able to support themselves due to their disability. If a person is legally blind under the Social Security definition, they should look into whether they can secure SSI or some other form of benefits. In addition, even if a person’s visual disability does not meet the legal definition of blindness, that disability combined with other conditions may prevent the person from working and could qualify them for benefits.

Source: SSA.gov, “Disability Planner: Special Rules For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision,” Accessed on March 18, 2016