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Blindness Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the challenges faced by those who have impaired vision. Because blindness may impair your ability to find and maintain employment, the SSA has special rules in place allowing those who are blind to obtain disability benefits under various programs. Qualifying for disability benefits can be more straightforward for those who are blind than for those who do not have impaired vision. Depending on your age and level of impairment, it may be possible to obtain benefits for blindness even while you are working.

Applying for benefits through the SSA can be a complicated process. There is a high denial rate for any type of Social Security Disability benefits, and even valid applications may be denied at first.

If you have a vision impairment and need assistance applying for disability benefits, a Kentucky Social Security Disability attorney at the Frank Jenkins Law Office can help. Our attorneys also assist clients who have been denied benefits and who wish to appeal the denial. To learn more, give us a call today at 859-389-9344 or fill out our online contact form.

Based in Lexington, we serve clients throughout Eastern Kentucky, including Berea, Georgetown, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Versailles and Winchester. 

About SSD Benefits for Blindness

You may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you are “legally blind,” which is defined by the SSA as having vision that cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the eye that you see the best out of. You may also be considered legally blind if you have a visual field of 20 degrees or less in the eye that you see best out of. A determination is made on whether you qualify based on corrected vision, so you are tested with glasses or contact lenses.

If you do not meet the definition of legally blind, you may still be eligible to receive disability benefits if you have vision problems coupled with other medical problems that prevent you from working. If you can show that your vision impairment — or your vision problem coupled with other medical problems — has a serious impact on your life and makes work impossible, then you could qualify for disability benefits.

Proving that you are legally blind requires submitting sufficient medical evidence from a licensed treating physician and, in some cases, submitting to independent testing and examinations as requested by the SSA. Proving you are legally blind can be challenging enough, but demonstrating that you should be eligible for benefits if you do not meet the definition of legal blindness is even more difficult. You need to have a dedicated and experienced Social Security Disability attorney on your side to help you to convince the SSA that you should receive benefits due to your disability.

Disability Benefits for Blindness

Provided you can prove you are legally blind or that you otherwise have a disabling condition that causes you to be unable to work, you may be eligible for disability benefits through programs provided by the SSA. These include:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — SSDI benefits are paid for by taxes that are deducted from your income. You earn eligibility for these benefits by working in a job and paying into Social Security. When you have worked long enough and paid enough in, you will have earned enough “work credits” to qualify for SSDI benefits. The number of work credits you need to qualify depends on your age at the time when you became disabled.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — Supplemental Security Income is not paid for through payroll taxes and there is no work history requirement, so you can qualify for SSI even if you’ve never worked. SSI is a need-based program, so the key qualifying factors are your family income and level of resources. Those with higher incomes or a significant amount of assets are not eligible for SSI benefits.

In some cases, depending upon your situation, you may be eligible for both SSDI and SSI. An experienced Kentucky Social Security Disability lawyer can explain to you which programs are right for you.

Special Rules for Blind Individuals

The SSA has special rules that apply to people who receive SSD benefits as a result of vision problems. One area in which the SSA treats those who are blind differently relates to working while on disability. The SSA provides work incentives to all disabled individuals, encouraging people who are collecting benefits to try to return to work. However, once you start earning too much, the SSA will eventually begin to reduce or cut off your benefits. The income limit for those who are blind is higher than for those who have other medical issues. For example, as of 2012, disabled workers who aren’t blind can earn up to $1,010 per month before their benefits are affected, while blind workers can earn as much as $1,690.

In addition, the SSA also does not consider time spent working on and building your own business if you are blind. It does for those who are not blind.

Finally, those who are receiving blindness benefits and who are 55 and older can exceed $1,690 per month and have their benefits only suspended, not stopped. If your earnings fall below this threshold during any month and if the work you are doing requires a lower skill level than the work performed prior to your blindness, then the SSA will pay you your benefits for that month.

Receiving Blindness Benefits

The amount of Social Security benefits you receive, both when disabled and when retired, is generally based on your average lifetime earnings. However, when you become blind, you can request a disability “freeze.” This means that your benefits calculation can be frozen where it was prior to your blindness. If you do work at a reduced income after you become blind, the lower pay will not affect the amount of benefits you receive since your reduced earnings will not be considered in calculating your benefits.

Because of the possibility of using a disability freeze, and because it can take a long time to begin receiving benefits from the time you apply, it is important to apply for disability benefits from the SSA as soon as you become eligible. If you are not certain whether you qualify for benefits or if you need help with the application process, contact an experienced Kentucky Social Security Disability lawyer at the Frank Jenkins Law Office.

Contact Our Kentucky Disability Lawyers about Your Legal Rights

For over 20 years, the Kentucky Social Security Disability lawyers at the Frank Jenkins Law Office have been successfully helping disabled individuals obtain SSD benefits. Your next step should be to contact us for a free case evaluation.

If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with a disability claim, or if you have questions about appealing a denied claim, contact a Kentucky Social Security Disability lawyer today at 859-389-9344 or use our online contact form.