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Can I get disability from Social Security if I have low vision, but am not totally blind?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  188 Comments

Learn how blindness, statutory blindness, or low vision can qualify you to get disability from Social Security and about work incentives for the blind.

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Watch the Video: “Can I get disability from Social Security if I have low vision, but am not totally blind?”

Social Security Disability for the Blind

You can get disability from Social Security for complete blindness and statutory blindness if you meet the Social Security’s definition of Disability.

Statutory blindness is defined as either having visual acuity for distance of 20/200 or worse in your best eye with the use of corrective lenses or having a restricted field of vision in your best eye “such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.”

Social Security’s definition of disability includes “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity.” If you are blind or statutorily blind, as defined by Social Security law, then when Social Security evaluates your new claim or your continuing eligibility for benefits, they will use the benchmark for blind individuals to determine whether you are performing or can perform substantial work. The earnings level for substantial work by a blind worker is higher than for a non-blind worker. For example, in 2016, it was $1,820.00 as compared to $1,130.00 for non-blind workers. This means that you could have earnings of $1,820.00 per month in 2016 and still potentially be considered disabled. Additionally, if you blind and self-employed, Social Security looks only at your earnings and not at the services you perform for the business, as it does for non-blind workers.

Social Security Disability Based on Low Vision

It is worth while to note, that if you have low vision, but are not statutorily blind, you may still be disabled under Social Security’s definition of disability, which considers your past work experience and, if you are under age fifty, your education, training and experience. You might qualify because your eyesight is too poor to do work you have done in the past or, if you are under age fifty, any other work for which you have transferable skills. Another possibility is that you might get disability benefits because you have limitations from multiple conditions—your low vision and other medical or psychological conditions. If you are working while applying for disability, Social Security will use the substantial work benchmark for non-blind workers, $1,090 in 2016, in applying its definition of disability to your claim.

For more information about how Social Security evaluates your claim and about working while claiming disability from Social Security, see our articles “How does the Social Security Administration apply Social Security Laws to determine if I am disabled?” and “Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability?”

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188 Comments

  1. Adolfo Gutierrez says:

    im 18 years old but was diagnosed with keratoconus when i was 14. I have keratoconus on both of my eyes, my eye sight is very poor. Recently i tried to get my drivers license but wasn’t able to pass the vision test even if i wore my glasses. I will start college in the fall 2016 (sep 22nd) but i have trouble reading and anything involving my vision, i see double. I haven’t worked but i was wondering if i am eligible for for social security?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Adolfo,

      You might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability, which does not require work credits for U.S. citizens and some legal aliens. To get an appointment to file a claim by telephone or in your nearest Social Security office, call 1-800-772-1213. Information about the SSI program is available in the articles under the SSI tab at the top of this webpage. Just a note: most colleges can connect you with resources that might you be helpful with note-taking or other college-related tasks.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  2. William says:

    I have a a rare condition called ectopia lentis causing my lenses to slowly move more and more out of place in my eye. My eyesight will get worse and worse over time. Im 21 and my eyesight is 20/40 left and 20/100 right with my glasses. I was told i am literally at the bare minimun to legally drive. In a few months i probably wont be able to drive. Is there anything i will able to do when this happens.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear William,

      Eligibility for disability benefits is based on the inability to work rather than the inability to drive. If you become unable to work, you can apply for disability benefits based on low vision.

      If you are now working or going to school or plan to, I suggest that you now start investigating other modes of transportation such as public transit or carpooling or hiring someone to drive you–possibly someone you work with who for a small fee would be willing to go a bit out of the way to drive you. Some larger communities have transportation systems that provide door-to-door transportation for the handicapped that you could use for grocery shopping and appointments, but it might not be practical for work; you’d have to check.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  3. karen says:

    Hi – applied for social security disability in March 2015 – just received letter of denial. I am legally blind in right eye after many surgeries and ongoing injections. I have PVR a rare disease that pulls at your retina. I have no periphial vision, constant double vision, headaches and eye pain. 2 questions
    1. Do I file an appeal by myself OR hire attorney and have him help me with the rest of the process
    2. I never talked to any of my doctors- should I do that and be sure they are on my side and support me. Does SS actually talk to doctors or just read reports?
    Thanks for your help

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Karen,

      Social Security would not usually talk with your doctors. They might request either reports or records or both. I suggest that you request a copy of your claim file so that you can find out what information is in file and what is missing and the exact reasons for the denial, which will appear in the decision memo in file. This will be useful in addressing the pertinent points when you appeal. You need to submit eye exam results that support the symptoms that you experience. It would be very advisable to talk with your ophthamologist about your symptoms and the functional problems you are having and your reasons for applying for disablity benefits. Perhaps the doctor will write a summarizing report to support your claim.

      It could be helpful to engage an attorney now to see if you can get approved without the very long wait for a hearing as part of a second appeal. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  4. Pat says:

    I am 59 years old, have worked as a bookkeeper most of my adult life. I had cataract surgery in both eyes last year. (Apr 2015 & July 2015). In Feb 2016 I developed floaters. A large one in my left eye, that stretches from top to bottom of my vision, moves left to right and back all day long. The floaters in my right eye are small / numerous, do not impair my vision. I went to my regular eye doctor 2x, and my eye surgeon 1x, within a week of getting the floaters. “Nothing can be done”, “you’ll get used to them”, “due to age”. Last week I was terminated from my job because I could not do my job fast enough. And they were correct. I have difficulty with accuracy if I don’t double check the work, look that the documents for a longer amount of time, have problems with 6’s and 8’s, 1’s and l’s – I make mistakes, etc. I’m afraid that I can not do accounting anymore. My sister says that I be illegible for disability. Thoughts?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Pat,

      Based on your age and work history, you might qualify for benefits based on low vision. I suggest that to support your claim you try to get something from the ophthalmologist that describes your functional visual limitations. Also, get a statement from your employer about the reasons for your dismissal. Also, check to see if your employer has a short-term or long-term disability insurance policy under which you are covered.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  5. Keshara says:

    Hello Kay,

    I just found out my vision is 20/800 in both eyes without corrected lens. With corrected lens like glasses its 20/20 so I’m able to see what I’m doing around me plus I’m nearsighted and have astigmatism. Is it possible to qualify under low vision with corrected lens for SSI benefits? With them I still have problems and without I definitely have problems and sometimes I’m unable to get annuals due to lack of insurance coverage. Also it been times where my glasses break and I try to fix them just to get by because without them it’s like I’m blessed mf. Please give me some information on this matter thank you!

    • Keshara says:

      Auto correct I meant to say I feel like I’m completely blind! Sorry

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Keshara,

      You would not qualify for benefits based on low vision because lenses correct your vision to 20/20, which is the best vision can be uncorrected. The only exception would be if you had very restricted peripheral vision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  6. Bridget h. says:

    I have worked at in home care since I was 18.In 2013 I woke up from a minor hospital procedure with the worst migraine ever and has never stopped for a second in almost 3 years. Within weeks I started falling ,causing terrible back and neck pain( causing me to not be able to sit or stand for long periods), I have uncontrollable tremors in my hands and neck.Along with chronic fatigue numbness in my hands and feet and constantly wanting to sleep due to medications.I’ve seen countless doctors and specialist and was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebri a little over a week ago.Now im on another medication (which is to lower the pressure and has mildly helped with the headache.I still have all other symtoms and was recently told i have 0% visability in half my left eye and the same in my right eye. I applied for disability in 2014 and was denied I appealed with an attourney and finally have a cout date in september 2016.what are my odds of getting disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Bridget,

      If you have good documentation, I’d say you have a reasonable chance for approval.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  7. Robin Minor says:

    I am a 50 year old black woman who has been out of work for 6 months. I have had high blood problems for over 20 years. I have worked off and on mostly all my life with no help hardly. But in 2012 I had a stroke, and every since then my health has gone worse. I am in and out of the hospital. I have been diagnosed with chronic hypertension and chronic high blood pressure. I have low vision, sharp pains in my chest, I vomit a lot, dizzy spells, fainting spells and rheumatoid arthritis. I have seen specialist after specialist. A cardiac specialist, and a hypertension specialist. I had 2 PCP, in the past 7 months. My blood pressure runs at over 200/100 on a daily basis. I take 8 different medications which aren’t doing any good. I sometimes do get down to 140/100 every once and a blue moon. I have pains in my chest almost everyday. And the pain last for about 4-5 seconds, where it’s either needle like, or tightening in my chest. I went to the disability doctor the Social Security people assigned me to yesterday. My blood pressure was 140/95, but I was throwing up and had a bad headache. I had taken all 8 pills all at once to not to have a high blood pressure. Can I still get either SSI or SSDI even if it was that low? And when I got to the house I almost fainted. What are my chances of getting disability in August? Its been since December when I applied.

    • Robin Minor says:

      I want to know if I will be receiving back pay benefits too. If I can most likely get it in August this year?

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Robin,

        If you are approved with a disability onset date in the past, you will receive back pay in addition to back pay for the period of time it takes to get payment started.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robin,

      You have not told me what transpired during the examination other than your blood pressure reading so I can’t really say what the doctor’s report might be. Based on how you describe your health, I suggest that if you are denied that you appeal with the help of an experienced Social Security attorney. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  8. Wendy says:

    Hi, I’m 42 and have worked off and on throughout my life. I’ve been unemployed for 6yrs. I had been denied for ss/I and it went all the way to court and denied. My attorney was not helpful.
    I have poor vision, bleeding retinas, retinopothy, neuropathy , type 2 diabetes, Eczema, Sleep Apnea, arthritis in my knees, missing cartilage in my knees, hips give out, morbidly obese, depression, bells palsy, nerve damage in my hands and feet. I have difficulty walking and sitting for any lengths of time.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Wendy,

      If the hearing decision was less than sixty days ago, you can appeal the judge’s decision, but you will need an attorney’s help. I am not recommending it, but you do have the right to change attorneys.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  9. Rafael O Hernandez says:

    I asked for my social security card for the 3rd time this year but this time it never got to the mailing adress i was staying at i moved now i got a different adress nd now i cant work because i dont have a social security card what do i do?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rafael,

      Visit the following link, which will tell you whether or not you can request a replacement card online or you have to go to an office to present documents.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  10. sherry lindsey says:

    i am 50 years old and have been a school bus driver for 26 years. i was just digonsd with monculor vision. i can only see out of 1 eye at time. i have backed in to at leaste 7 mail boxes and feneces in the last year i have almost been demoted because on the lack of depth perseption would i qulify for disablity

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sherry,

      I’m not sure whether you would qualify for Social Security Disability. If you have transferable skills to work in another occupation you might not. However, given the safety issues involved in your occupation, I suggest that you consider for investigating whether you are covered by short-term disability (STD) and/or long-term disability (LTD) under a policy provided by the school district. Usually STD require only that you be disabled from your current occupation and LTD only disabled from your own occupation for the first two years of benefits. While receiving those benefits, you could apply for Social Security Disability and get a formal determination.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  11. Sherrie says:

    I have not been able to work since a back injury in 2003. Then I contracted Lyne disease in 2006 and now have late stage 3 Lyne disease that has injured my eyesight profoundly over the past 9 years. Before 2003 I had 49 work credits but now with the past injurys and with my eyesight affected with Ophthalmic Migraines that last for hours on a daily basis I have finally realized I will never work again, bar a miracle recovery. My ophthalmology Dr says it will continue to worsen and I may lose my vision permantly. When the migraines occur I lose complete vision in my left eye with snow blocking everything and my right can not focus when it starts. If I don’t close my eyes I get vertigo and fall.
    My dr says I qualify for low vision. But I do not have enough work credits now. I’m 54 and it says that I may qualify for SSDI based on my spouses credits. I do not qualify for SSI. Can you explain how I can use my husbands credits for low vision? I do not understand the below statement?
    I found this on SSA:
    If you’re blind, you can earn credits anytime during your working years. Credits for your work after you become blind can be used
    to qualify you for benefits if you don’t have enough credits at the time you become blind.
    Also, if you don’t have enough credits to get Social Security disability benefits based on your own earnings, you may be able to get benefits based on the earnings of one of your parents or your spouse.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sherrie,

      You must be either sixty-two years old or have your husband’s child under age sixteen in your care to receive dependent benefits on your husband’s earnings record. Additionally, he must be receiving benefits for you to receive beneifts. If he dies before you, you can apply for disabled widow’s benefits because you are over age fifty.

      To apply for Social Security Disability benefits on your own earnings record, you have to prove that you became disabled while you were still insured. I suggest that you contact the Social Security Administration to find out your date last insured, which could be as late as some time in 2008 if you were working steadily in the five years before you stopped work. You could file a claim claiming a disability onset date while you were still insured. If you do this, you need to write up a simple, bullet-point type chronology of the beginning of each of your medical problems and the points in which they worsened and a list of all health care providers and get the records to submit. You also need to list in the chronology the symptoms you were having that caused you to stop work and when additional symptoms began to occur and who they further limited you. Imaging of your back from 2003 would be important.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  12. Robert says:

    Hello,I filed a disability claim for my child when she was 5 years old.They gave her several test.She failed very test they gave her and they still sent a paper denying her?So from what i have gathered from people the government will deny a person rolling into the building to apply with no limbs.I was told everyone no matter whom has to apply twice sometimes tens of time??Is this true?.She has had surgery on her eye muscles as her eyes would severely pull inwards.On top of that she wears coke bottle glasses and she cannot see without them.I feel despair and i almost have had a nervous break down at times because our DRs can be so picky.We are poor and have public insurance so she still requires eye care because her eyes are still crooked.She was seeing a dr around the way but this dr sent us to another dr because this dr didnt want to take our insurance any longer,The same happened with dr number two.So she hasn’t been to a specialist dr just a dr for regular eye check up’s.She is in need of care i dont know what to do?When she was a toddler we used to get very offended when people would tell us to get disability for her.Now she is twelve and her eyes are not getting any better.God i would give her my perfect vision eye’s in a second :( I am reaching out to the internet begging for anyone to help me with knowledge of this matter.Please help me.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      Not everyone has to appeal to be approved. Many claims are approved on first application.

      I suggest that you read the article “What Medical Conditions Are Required to Meet SSI Disability Qualifications and to Get an SSI Approval?”, which is under the SSI tab at the top of this web page. The article explains how childhood disability is determined. If you think that your child meets those requirements, I suggest hiring an experienced Social Security attorney to file the appeal. It could also be helpful to request a copy of your daughter’s file so you can see the exact reason for the denial.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Robert says:

        I am sorry.I meant it seems everyone is denied the first time they apply.So when we were denied we were scarred away thinking one decision is final.But after reading further into this issue it is clear to me now people should apply more than once.It’s been a few years but the paper they sent us stated she did not meet disability standard’s But the poor girl cant see without her glasses.This is why i am very confused on the matter.We will try again.All i want to do is be able to pay for her to have private insurance so we dont have to travel 50 miles to have her be seen.But anyway thank you again.

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Robert,

          You can apply for your daughter again, but her visual ability will be assessed as her best vision when corrected by glasses.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  13. If some one does have SSI benefits and they get married do they lose the benefit if the person they marry earns more than $1130 a month?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jannillia,

      Total earnings and family composition determine payment amount. It is possible to be eligible for SSI when a spouse has more than $1,130 gross earnings. If you want to give me the amount of the gross earnings you are thinking of and the family composition, I can give you an estimate of the effect on eligibility.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  14. Can you receive SSI for both low vision and for mental inabilities. Or is it one or other.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jannilla,

      All of your medical conditions–physical and mental–will be considered in determining whether you are disabled. Accordingly, list all conditions and provide contact information for the medical providers for all the conditions

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  15. Kelly H says:

    I am turning 54 on June 9. In December I had a detached retina, but now I have persistent double vision and distortion. I worked on a computer typing, but recently stopped working due to the inability to see the screen, a loss of depth, and I no longer drive. I have not driven since December after surgery. The doctors have not found a solution to my problem and I am facing a third surgery. I have persistent migraines and have fallen several times. Night vision is very difficult for me. Prior to office work in the last year, I had a home daycare for 10 years. During that career, I had a spinal fusion, but quit my daycare because pain and numbness were coming back. I can’t go back to caring for infants and children because of my inability to see well, but also because of my back issues. I am beginning the process for SSI but worry about being denied. My doctor has told me he believes me to be visually disabled, but I am afraid that SS has higher expectations. Please advise. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Kelly,

      The combination of your vision deficits, back issues, migraines, and history of falling may be enough for approval if the vision problem is expected to persist for twelve months from last December. Be sure to say on the application that you closed your day care business because of your back problems. Try to get an estimate of when the next surgery will be and how long the recovery will be before you would have significant improvement. It takes two to five months for a decision. Submit records after your surgery. If you are denied because disability is not expected to last twelve months, appeal close to the end of the sixty-day appeals period to keep the claim active until closer to the end of the twelve months.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Kelly H says:

        Thank you for your response. I will take your advice and hope they can help me get approved. I see the doctor on Monday for a surgical consult and to possibly schedule it for July.

  16. Michael Wadas says:

    My eye site is 20/200 in one eye and 20/80 in the other i have type 2 diabetes and had a heart attack a year ago and had 2 stents put in i have been a manager of auto parts and have been having a hard time seeing paperwork and also getting parts of the shelves because i cant see the part numbers and cant see the info on the computers. I also have a hard time driving do to menaculer edema.worked in this industry for 23 years i am 45 years old do i qualify for ssdi.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michael,

      You will qualify if there are not other occupations that you could perform with these limitations. If you stop work or reduce your hours so that you are earning less than $1,130 gross per month, you can file a claim. It takes two to five months to get a decision. I suggest that you check to see whether your company has a short-term disability policy (STD) or a state disability insurance that could provide income while your Social Security claim is pending.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  17. Amba says:

    Hi – I have Usher’s Syndrome, Type 2. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this disease, but it is retinitis pigmentosa and hearing impairment combined. My RP has progressed to the point that I am considered legally blind due to less than 20% peripheral vision and cannot drive. During this past year, my central vision in my left eye has deteriorated significantly.
    I have been a teacher in the public school system for 15 years. Do you think I’d qualify for SSDI? I am not a quitter, but it is very difficult to do my job as my eyesight worsens.
    Thanks,
    Amba

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Amba,

      If you are legally blind with best correction glasses, you will qualify for disability benefits. If you are not, you might qualify based on low vision, given your profession.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  18. Jerrie Gonzalez says:

    Hello,

    My vision is -16 in both eyes. I’m very near-sighted. I’m at risk for retinal detachment and I have a lot of floaters. I’ve been working for all my life as a secretary, but I can no longer focus on the computer screen in order to perform my job. I can’t always enlarge fonts to produce documents. Additionally, my glasses are so heavy, they’re causing headaches and making indentations on my skull behind my ears and bruises on my nose. I’m 46 years old and have always worked as a administrative assistant (since I was 18 years old). Would I qualify for SSDI? P.S. I wrote this on my phone without my glasses on with the screen about an inch from my face…

    Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jerrie,

      Given your work history and low vision, it is possible that you might qualify for SSDI benefits. It will depend on whether you are able to work in other occupations with your limited site. If you stop work or reduce your hours so you are earning $1,130 gross or less, you can file an application.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  19. ravinder gill says:

    I used to be a truck driver, i recently got robbed and stabbed in my eye I’ve had to have my eye removed.can I get any benefits, as I can’t have a CDL anymore. Btw I have always been a independent contractor would that effect my case?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ravinder,

      If you are unable to work in jobs you have done in the past and are unable to work in new occupations that you could do if you did not have limited vision,, you will be considered disabled. If you paid self-employment tax, which is Social Security tax on your earnings, being self-employed will not negatively affect your claim for Social Security Disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  20. Charlie says:

    I’m 24 and was diagnosed as legally blind due to my RP about two years ago. My peripheral and night vision are gone (thus legally blind) but my front vision is holding for right now. I work full time as a receptionist, but don’t earn a lot – am I eligible for SSI or SSDI and how would I go about doing that? Thank you so much! :)

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Charlie,

      If you are legally blind and earning less than $1,130 gross per month, you can apply for benefits while working.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Daisy says:

        I am legally blind in one eye other eye is getting worse I am a widow do I qualify for widow’s benefits I am 51 years old thank you

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Daisy,

          You might qualify for benefits based on low vision. You will have to file an application to find out. If you have any other medical conditions, list them too.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  21. LaTasha Gant says:

    I am asking a question for a friend of mine she has two kids one age 6 other one is 8 they are legally blind without glasses but with glasses they can see a little better would she be able to get any type of help from social security? Her insurance thru Aflac wont let her get supplemental help with the kids what can she do to help get some type of help with the kids expenses?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear LaTasha,

      If her children are handicapped by their low vision, they may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which is administered by the Social Security Administration. I suggest that she file applications for them.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  22. Santina P. says:

    Hi, my wife has been legally blind her entire life due to spinal meningitis which burned the optic nerves in both of her eyes as a young child. Also, she was not afforded the opportunities by her family to learn how to read, write, or learn Braille. She can do the basic writing, she is good with her hands, she does not let her vision bother her, but reading is out of the question. She has tried to obtain work, but no one wants to hire a middle aged blind woman who cannot read or write. Several doctors have confirmed that she has 20/200 vision, she has certification from the Helen Keller School in NY and from the Division of Blind Services in Florida. She was on SSI until 2004 when it was taken away from her because she got married and my income exceeded the thresholds. She has re-applied some many times throughout the years, only to be denied for whatever reasons. My basic concern is that she wants to apply for SSDI, but I do not want her to go through the hardship of being denied again for whatever dumb reasons we cannot fully understand. She is legally blind and cannot be gainfully employed, she would rather be healthy and work and contribute to society, but cannot because of the many limitations, Any thoughts on what she should do? Thank you in advance.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Santina,

      Your wife has not worked and paid Social Security taxes on her work earnings so she is not insured for and not eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI). To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), her and your income and assets have to fall below a certain specified level because SSI is a needs-based benefit paid to provide basic food and shelter. The past SSI denials were probably due to family income or family assets being to high. Once you receive retirement benefits, she can draw spouse’s benefits on your earnings record when she reaches age sixty-two. If you pass away before her, at age fifty, she can apply for disabled surviving spouse’s benefits. In the meantime, I am wondering whether the Blind Commission could identify any occupations she could perform using her manual skills.

      Sincerely,
      kay

  23. Rosa says:

    Hi question….. I am a single mom of 3 kids I just got diagnosed with karatoconus I am not legally blind but my left eye has only been able to see shadows for 6 years but now my right eye with disease is having a hard time focusing what kind of help can I get from ssdi? My vision plan won’t cover since its a medical condition.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rosa,

      If you become unable to work and earn at least $1,130 gross per month, you can file for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits based on low vision (rather than blindness). Whether or not you will be eligible will depend on whether there are jobs you can perform with the vision you have. If you reach the point of having to stop work, check to see if your employer has a short-term disability policy that would provide income while you wait for your SSDI claim to be processed. If not and you assets are limited, you might be able to get Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which is administered by local state or county social services offices.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Jessica says:

      Hi rosa. I wanted to take the time to share with you about the exact medical condition i am suffering in my right eye. I have keratoconus. I was diagnosed on december 21 2015. I waited 4 years to finally find answers to why i had distorted vision. I am employed full time with an associates degree in criminal justice. I struggle everyday with my affected eye, the pain is unbeareable and the dryness is terrible. Theyre often red and in pain that connects to my head. I see halos, blurry, double, ghosts, etc….. Sadly my good eye is in the beginning stage of keratocornus so i am running out of time and i can notice each day. I was told by 3 opthamalolgists that my only option is a corneal transplant but my health insurance wont pay for the surgery until i try some special lenses that cost 1400 and insurance wont pay. I will be trying that in a few weeks and hopefully i get my transplant soon. But i am staying active in life and pray to god everyday to give me strength to keeo going eventho i have low vision. I have a 6 year old son but Keratoconus will not stop me from having a normal life, i refuse to define myself as disabled individual because i am not. I know one day i will see clear. But for now i am in a battle for my vision.

  24. I have a disease called Guttae which is in both eyes. Another name is Fuchs dystrophy, in which my vision is 20/30 to see with corrective lenses on in last year of August now my vision gotten worse and I they will not give me new lenses until I have surgery to see the out come. Without glasses my vision is 20/100 and declining because of my disease. The transplant surgery recovery time for seeing out my eyes is 3 to 4 months will I be considered under the legally blind act with SSDI . I also worked and applied for SSDI in February of this year the women never mentioned anything about the blind guide lines, but she did say my daughter will get a check to if I qualify. Could you please tell me if I fall under the guide lines or not. Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Deborah,

      To be legally blind you vision has to be 20/200 or worse in both eyes when wearing correctly lenses or have very limited peripheral vision. It is possible to be disabled due to low vision without being legally blind. Your claim will be evaluated based on the usual disability criteria. You can read about the criteria in the article
      “How Does the Social Security Administration Apply Social Security Disability Laws to Determine If I Am Disabled?” under the Claim Process tab on the navigation bar on the top of his web page.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  25. DHARAMVEER says:

    Sir I have one eye then was how many perstange in handicaped certificate.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dharamveer,

      Social Security does not calculate benefits on percentages. If the loss of one eye keeps you from working and performing substantial gainful activity, which is usually defined as $1,130 gross wages or $1,130 net profit from self-employment, I suggest you file a claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  26. Debra Yarde says:

    My husband is from Panama and has a Green Card… He is now blind in one eye and sight going in other eye. Never worked in US under his name. Can he receive any type of benefits in the US?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Debra,

      The rules for legal aliens to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are complex and detailed. I suggest that he file an application (but not the medical statement) to get a formal decision on whether he can qualify with his immigration status and whether your family income and assets qualify him. If so, then he can complete the medical forms that go with the claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • ahmed says:

        Am blind one eye can I get ssd

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Ahmed,

          I cannot say for sure, but you may not qualify for disability benefits. To be eligible for benefits, you have to be unable to work in any occupation that you would otherwise be able to do if you had not lost eyesight in one eye. Your work history, education, and age would be taken into consideration in making the determination.

          If you are unable to work in occupations you have performed in the past, you might contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to see whether they can identify other occupations you can perform or provide training for work you can do.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  27. Mary Poppa says:

    Hi my eye test was 20/200 an 20/100 that was swellen test then they sent me back to eye dr an regular test is 20/70 an 20/50 I also suffer from server depression an aniexity an bipolar I applied an was denied I appealed any suggestions????

    • Mary Poppa says:

      I also suffer from PTSD for a year now as well!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mary,

      I suggest that you request a copy of your claim file to see the exact reasons for the denial and then try to get an attorney to represent you in an appeal. When you hire a Social Security attorney, you do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge, and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from your retroactive award before they send your back pay to you. (If you decide to appeal, be sure to file the appeal within sixty days of the denial.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  28. Christopher says:

    I work as a baker. I get usually between 32 and 39 hours a week. I am totally blind in my right eye. Would I still be eligible for some sort of benefits?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Christopher,

      If your earnings exceed $1,090 gross per month, you are not disabled regardless of your medical condition. The amount is higher for a person who is blind, but because you are sighted in one eye, the rules that apply to disability caused by blindness do not apply to you. In addition to your earnings being an indication that you can perform substantial gainful activity, being blind in one eye would not constitute disability unless you are advanced in age and cann’t perform work that you had done in the past due to your visual impairment

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  29. Quanisha McIntosh says:

    Hi my daughter was diagnost with cancer in the eye call reintoblasma in both eyes will she be quafied for disability?

  30. Joyce says:

    I have been declared Legally Blind recently. However, I am sure that I have been legally blind for many years but have not gone to eye specialists for a while and never had anyone put it in writing.
    My job requires a lot of reading materials and they give us written tests several times a year. I have much difficulty reading…. I use magnifying glasses PLUS a magnifying glass. The struggle has gotten to be too much for me any more. I am 54 and in the process of applying for disability retirement and SSD.
    I am VERY worried I may not get approved. My retina specialist put me out of work and I am using up all my sick and vacation time waiting for the disability to kick in. Should I be worried that I may not qualify>

    Joyce

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Joyce,

      With your being fifty-four years old and legally blind, I would expect you would be approved.
      Get a copy of your recent testing that shows you are legally blind and submit it for your claim.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Daisy says:

        Hello I am legally blind in one eye and my left eye is getting worst I am 52 years old I don’t know how long I can do my job its getting worst how long do I wait before getting my widows fund ?

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Daisy,

          You are old enough to receive disabled widow’s benefits, although they will be reduced because you are not full retirement age. If you have worked enough to be insured for Social Security Disability, you can apply for disability benefits on your own earnings record. You can apply for either benefit when you either stop work or reduce your work to less than $1,090 gross per month.

          You can receive widow’s benefits based on age, not disability, at age sixty. Benefits will be reduced, but not as much as at age fifty-two.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  31. Melissa says:

    I am legally blind in my right eye and have been since I was 6 yrs old. I am now 44 and have recently found out I have the start of Glaucoma in my left eye. I am concerned and wondering if I will be eligible for Social Security Disability? Currently , I am employed 32 hours a week. Not sure for how much longer though as I am having issues seeing as well as I used to. I make less than 14,000 a year before taxes.Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Melissa,

      If you have to stop work because of your eyesight, you can apply for Social Security Disability based on low vision even if you are not legally blind. Currently, you might contact the Commission for the Blind to find out whether there are devices that you could help you see better in your work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Helena Ray says:

        Hi K I’m sorry I had to piggyback on this previous email but I did not know how else to email this to you. I live in the state of Georgia. I and legally blind in both eyes due to toxoplasmosis from birth. One of my eyes there is no correction at all the other one I do wear glasses and it is corrected to about 2040 however I do have low vision in that Eye do to floaters from my disease. 20 years ago I was a paramedic but I have stayed home for over 10 years now being a stay-at-home mom. I am wanting to get back to work but everything I am finding visually I am not able to do with computers etc. and the job seems to let me go. I have applied for Social Security disability in the past and have been denied several times due to the fact that my husband makes too much money is there any guidance you can give me

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Helena Ray,

          It sounds as if you do not have sufficient work credits (forty total with twenty credits in the last ten years before your disability began) to be insured for Social Security Disability. Given that and the fact that your family income is above the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) limits, I can’t think of a disability benefit you would be eligible for.

          You might contact the Commission for the Blind and/or your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation to see if they can point you in the direction of an occupation that is within your visual limits.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  32. Bren says:

    I am 45 years old and work in a professional field where there is simply no such thing as a part time job and as a matter of fact requires a lot of overtime. Recently I was diagnosed with night blindness and my DR says he is going to put a legal limitation on my driver’s license stating that I can’t drive after dark. That’s fine in summer but in winter it’s dark by 4 pm here and I work 9-5 in a job more than an hour from my home. My current employer has already told me that they can’t keep me on if I can’t give them an 8+ hour day. I live way out in the country and there aren’t any good jobs closer to me that I am qualified for and physically capable of. Nor do I have anyone I can carpool with. I also have poorly controlled high blood pressure and a mild case of cardiomyopathy so I can’t work physically or emotionally stressful jobs. With these combined issues, do you think it is possible I would qualify for at least partial disability? Or are they simply going to tell me I need to move somewhere with public transportation which is simply not an option for me.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Bren,

      I can’t say for sure, but I think your claim would likely be denied for the reasons you listed. Not being able to get to work is not the same as not being able to work. Perhaps you can pay someone to drive you to and from work in the winter, perhaps someone who lives somewhere along the route.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  33. wayne d says:

    i have just became blind in one eye and i have been a comercial truck driver most of my life but i no longer can hold a cdl licenes im 55yrs old can i get ssi disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Wayne,

      You may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) because of your work history and age. I recommend applying.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  34. Brandon says:

    Hi my name is Brandon I’m 22, I was diagnosed with stargartdzs disease when I was 17. My vision is 20/200 both eyes and glasses don’t help. I was proscribed a biopric lense mounted on top of my glasses . with those my vision is 20/100 far 20/80 near however the bioptic lense is only aboit a quarter inh box only one eye can look through still making things very difficult to see. Am I eligable for social security ?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Brandon,

      You might still be considered legally blind due to limited field of vision. Even if you are not, you might be considered disabled due to low vision. If you are not now working earning $1,090 gross a month , I suggest that you apply. When you file your application, submit a copy of your last vision test with and with the special lens including any testing or report that quantifies the narrow window of better vision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  35. vanessa says:

    I signed up on SSID for bipolar, tumor, headaches, and very low vision…my vision is 20/400 in both eyes. I have 3 kids, and I use hearing and sense of touch, and smell to survive and get around to survive. I am now used to bumping in to things, trip, fall ect. that is what sucks about my vision lost over a period of time..I’m 38 the eye doctor said there is no abnormalities, but found swollen in my left eye, and a high chance of having glaucoma. I fear working for fear I may hurt myself and really be unable to take care of my kids, but I want to work a little, although I have some help with my children I want to provide for them better. Would I qualify for benefits, and also what are binoculars to see out of? I am unable to drive anymore I have a car I can’t use it’s just sitting I get my fiancee to drive me, but I heard that certain devices can help with that.

    • vanessa says:

      Also if I do qualify for benefits, could I get a see an eye dog even though I’m not fully blind? Several times I over corrected at my child’s bus stop, crossed the street and I almost got hit by a car…eeek that’s scary.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Vanessa,

      I suggest that you contact the Commission for the Blind and inquire about devices and services that might be help you. I see no reason you could not get a guide dog. You may be eligible for disability benefits based on your low vision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  36. Ieasha says:

    i currently have hard contacts lenses to help me see i have the same lenses since 2011 when i was 17. im now 22. do you think ssi would help

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Leasha,

      Please see my response to your previous post. I have on additional comment and that is medical insurance plans often do not cover eye care that is only for refraction (testing for correction) or glasses or contacts. You might try the Lions Club or another non-profit or check to see if your area has a low-cost eye-care clinic.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  37. Ieasha titania Avent says:

    hey, i have keratoconus in both eyes. i been diagnose with this since 2010. im currently unemployed and seeking 4 a job. i don’t have medicaid to help to pay 4 my eye appts, i was wondering would i be eligible for ssi

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Leasha,

      You may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if your vision is poor enough that it keeps you from working. I suggest that you investigate health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which offers government subsidies to pay for insurance premiums. Eligibility for and amount of the subsidies depends on your income. The annual open enrollment period is in progress now through January 31. More information is available at http://www.healthcare.gov.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  38. Sylvia says:

    I am 46 y/o with retinitis pigmentosa. I am legally blind (peripheral fields at 15 degrees) and had to quit work as a nurse practitioner b/c I was having difficulty performing my job. I will be applying for SSDI and wonder if I will have difficulty in being granted SSDI due to my age and education (Master’s degree). Your input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Sylvia,

      Given that you are legally blind and not working, your claim should be approved.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Dragon says:

        How much can you get from partially blindness but so bad that you can’t drive or work at all since the age of 3

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Dragon,

          Without having worked, the disability program that could serve you if you qualify medically is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The maximum federal payment is $733. Some states pay a small supplement above this amount. If someone is providing you with free shelter and/or food, the maximum is $488.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  39. monique says:

    i wear glasses and was wondering if i could apply for ssi. i have two kids and i dont have a job but i do have food stamps

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Monique,

      Wearing glasses does not necessarily mean you are disabled. Many people who wear glasses work. You might try applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TARF) at your state or county social services office to get assistance in supporting your children or perhaps to get childcare services so you can work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  40. catrina says:

    Hi I’m 41 female. When I was 26 I was diagnosed with ocular toxoplasmosis. I have scars on both eyes over the macula. My vision with glasses in my right eye is 20/100 and left is 20/70. It’s getting worse and I can no longer drive at night due to the black spots in the center of my vision. I’ve been out of work for over a year. Would I quality for disability even though I’m not considered legally blind?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Catrina,

      Depending on your work history and education, you might be approved based on low vision. If there are no occupations that you can perform with your vision limitations, you could be approved. The only way to find out is to file a claim. List all the problems you had on the job due to your vision and if you lost jobs due to your vision, say so.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  41. Jennifer says:

    Hi Kay,
    I am 36 year old female and when I was 15 I was diagnosed with R.P. User syndrome! I am also hearing impaired and wear hearing aides! My question is how do I go about getting disability? I am a single mom of three and work for school district but notice my eyes are changing a lot more! Can I get disablity while working

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jennifer,

      As long as you can earn $1,099 gross wages or more, you are not disabled under Social Security law. If you have to reduce your work hours because of your medical limitation so that you are earning less than $1,099, you can apply while working.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  42. Paula says:

    This is my brothers story. He has been waiting for a disability hearing for over 17 months now. They said he still has 14 months to wait. Shouldn’t his eyesight be a big factor in the decision along with all the other medical things.

    My name is Jack, and I’m a father of two young boys whom I love dearly. I worked as a public high school teacher for 15 years and loved it, but an injury on the job has left me unable to work.

    In May 2007 an extremely brutal fight broke out in my classroom, and when I attempted to intervene , among other injuries, one of the two students picked me up and threw me across the room to the floor. Officers came in shortly after and took the students out of the room, and I thought I was fine, though definitely banged up a bit. I went home and rested that night, but the next morning I took two steps and hit the floor: I was in unbearable pain and unable to walk. The young man had crushed three discs in my spine. A little over two and a half years and 13 procedures later ended with having an “Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion” – a fancy way of saying that I have rods, screws, titanium cages, and cadaver implants in my lower spine. It was so severe that the surgeons had to go in through my abdomen from the front, lay my organs outside my body, and literally hammer and chisel out the damaged material from the inner part of my back. I was on medical leave for almost 8 months.

    My surgeon was phenomenal, and I can walk now, but the damage was so severe that I have permanent nerve damage in my lower back and left leg. I am always in pain, though the level varies. After continuing to work for 7 years after the initial injury, I have reached a point where I can not stand for any length of time, cannot walk long distances, cannot sit for any length of time, and can’t even sleep much – as whenever I move the slightest bit to get comfortable, I feel a nerve pinch and am awakened by the pain. I simply can’t find a position that doesn’t hurt.

    My spinal surgeon says that he’s done all he can do, and I will be in pain for the rest of my life.

    I didn’t sue the school – at the time, I thought it was best for my students not to take more funds from a county that was already faltering (typical teacher, I guess, thinking of the students first). Besides, the county agreed to cover initial medical fees and I got lots of “We’ll take care of you” sentiments, though none in writing. Since I waited over two years, I can no longer make a claim.

    As if that weren’t enough, in 2010 I had the first of 15 eye surgeries for a bizarre series of retinal detachments in both eyes. I am now completely blind in my right eye, though an excellent retinal surgeon has helped me maintain almost 20/40 vision in my left eye.

    I am thankful and grateful to still have as much vision and mobility as I do, but the fact is my level of pain and lack of mobility has left me unable to work. I filed for disability, which I’m told I will eventually receive, but it has been over 17 months and my retirement savings, as small as it was, has been completely used. I am at imminent risk of becoming homeless, I have unpaid medical bills for my vision, have no insurance, and will be unable to support my children in less than a month. I found out last week that my disability hearing is at least 14 months away!

    I may be asking for too little, to be honest: my goal is to be able to pay rent and utilities for at least a few months.

    I resisted coming to Go Fund Me for a long time, because I’m so used to pulling my own weight, but I’m no longer in a position to do so. I have gotten to a point where I’m desperate for help. Any help will be greatly appreciated by both me and my sons.

    Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Paula and Jack,

      While you are waiting on your hearing date and claim decision, I suggest that you apply to your state for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps, if you have not already. Also, you should be able to get health insurance for your children under Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can learn about CHIP at http://www.healthcare.gov.

      Your vision will be considered but with your education, there are probably several occupations you could perform with your remaining vision. Therefore, it is not likely that your vision will play a bit part in your claim. Be sure that you submit statements from your physicians that your reported pain levels are credible. Try to submit the original operative reports to show the severity of the initial injury and also any current or relatively current imaging of your back.

      Unfortunately, I cannot post your link to gofundme.com

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  43. Lyana says:

    Hello,
    I am a 30 years old single mother. I have been diagnosed with Coroidal Melanoma in the right eye. I had biopsy done and as a result was given 28% chance to live through 5 years ( well 4 years and 2 month now) , I am hopeful. My vision in right eye is very blurred but good vision in the left eye. I have some difficulty at work because of monocular vision , but still like to work and at the same time I can’t stop worrying and crying that I am wasting my time there and not enough with my son . I can’t stop thinking about him not having a parent.
    I was wondering if there was a way for me to qualify for disability. Any help advice will be appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Lyana,

      As long as you are earning $1,090 or more gross wages, you will not be considered disabled. If you stop working or reduce your earnings to below $1,090, you can file a claim. I don’t have enough information to predict whether your claim would be approved. If you are able to work in another occupation that is not so dependent on your vision, you will not be disabled as defined by Social Security law.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  44. Dee Ann says:

    hello how are you I have a question I am legally blind my one eye is 20/200 an other eye is 20/300 I was working but had too stop because of my sight an will start using a walker from poor circulation in my leg . I was receiving provisional benefits for the past few months for reinstatement to be decided if I’m still disabled my question iswill I be denied for SSA which I was getting for 8yrs an can I go back to getting SSI i had since age 9yrs old Thank you

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dee Ann,

      If you are insured and eligible for SSDI, SSDI will be paid. SSI will be paid only if your Social Security and other countable income are below $753 monthly (or slightly higher if you live in a state that pays an SSI state supplement. If that is the case, SSI will be paid in amount that brings your total countable income to $753.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  45. John Benson says:

    I am a 75 year old man retired and receiving Social Security Benefits, and Medicare. Recently I flee in my home and struck my face in such a way the I have lost the vision in my right eye. Am I eligible for additional disability income through eighteen Social Security of Medicare.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear John,

      Your Social Security and Medicare benefits will not increase because of your loss of vision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  46. Jhoana says:

    Hi, im 26 and yesturday the eye doctor told me I may have cancer on my left eye and possible removal is required. I don’t have much earned income and i want to know if the eye is removed do i qualify for ssi? This diagnosis has had me depressed. Can i apply for depression as well?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jhoana,

      If the removal of your eye and any other associated treatment for cancer are going to disable you for at least twelve months, you can apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It takes two to five months to get a decision. I suggest that you check with your employer to see whether you are covered by a short-term disability (STD) policy. If you have children, also check with your state’s social services department to see if there is financial help available for the children. For SSDI, SSI or STD, claim all the mental and physical conditions that affect your ability to work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  47. Tracy Nichols says:

    I am 46 years old live in NY, I am legally blind in my left eye due to glaucoma, my right eye is 20/20 do I qualify for any benefits?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tracy,

      You are probably not eligible for disability benefits because there are probably many jobs you could perform with normal vision in only one eye.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  48. david w says:

    Hi, I am legally blind and receive social security disability. Would I be able to start a ministry and still be able to receive SS disability?

    Thanks,

    David w

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear David,

      People who receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) can earn up to $1,800 a month and still receive full Social Security benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  49. Molly says:

    My 19 year old daughter underwent an enucleation (eye removal) of her right eye back in May of this year. Her vision is failing in her left eye as well now. (She did not lose her eye due to an injury. It started w/ a complete retinal detachment and they couldn’t save the eye. The eye was sent to Harvard, John Hopkins, and Stanford , for biopsy, where it was found to be 100% healthy.)

    I applied for SSI for her 2 weeks ago and she was denied because she hasn’t worked enough.

    I plan on filing an appeal. I am curious though. Will she even qualify for SSI because she hasn’t worked enough (at all)?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Molly,

      If your daughter has not worked and earned at least six quarters of coverage (work credits) at a rate of no more than four a year, she does not have enough work to be insured for Social Security Disability. Her Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment does not have a work requirement for citizens and many legal aliens; her income and assets have to fall below the prescribed levels.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  50. I’m 48 years old and have worn glasses since I was 14. I had my last eye exam 3 months ago and updated my lense. For the past 8 years or so I have had bad to severe headaches. I also have lots of eye pain with my left eye always watering a lot. My prescription is
    R+1.25 L -9.00. I also have a lot of problems with depth perception and fall a lot. My glasses don’t ever seem to help much. I am currently unemployed. I have trouble seeing computer screens and really pretty much everything. My family suggested I inquire about disability. Would I qualify?

    • I also forgot to mention that two years ago I had a detached retina. I also have tried several times to wear a contact in my right eye, however because of my astigmatism, I have trouble keeping the contact in my eye. Everytime I try to focus my vision to read anything whether it is a book or computer screen, my eyes have a stabbing pain and immediately start watering. This makes my sight more blurrier and makes it impossible to read anything. This is while wearing my glasses. Also after a few hours of wearing my glasses is when I start getting a headache to the point I have to take my glasses off which makes it impossible for me to see anything. If I don’t have my glasses on, then everything I look at is double. I also constantly have floaters in my left eye, which is a big distraction.

      • Kay Derochie says:

        Dear Carol,

        Please see my response of earlier today. Also, I suggest that you talk with your optometrist regarding the problem with your glasses. Maybe some adjustment needs to be made in your prescription.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Carol,

      I cannot predict whether you can be approved for disability benefits based on your vision deficits, which would be evaluated based on what you can see with glasses. It will depend on how much and how your ability to function is affected, your education, your work experience, and transferable skills. Really the only way to find out is to apply. Whether or not you file a claim, I suggest that you contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and/or a non-profit such as Goodwill or the Commission for the Blind to see whether you can get services to identify occupations you could perform with your visual deficits or that you could train for.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  51. Jessica says:

    I am wondering if my 4 year old son qualifies for disability.. His vision in right eye is 20/125 and his left 20/100 and he has severe pathologic myopia and he has cone dystrophy and we just found out he has holes in his retinas also the dr said he has low vision . We also just had genetic testing done to see if he has what the dr believed to be Cone -Rod dystrophy .. Help please I have signed him up for diability but I was told he wound get it

    • Jessica says:

      Wouldn’t get it . Not would

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jessica,

      Your son will not be approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) based on legal blindness, but it is possible that he could be approved based on low vision. The criteria for childhood disability is different from adult disability. You can find more information about this in the article “What Medical Conditions Are Required to Meet SSI Disability Qualifications and to Get an SSI Approval?” under the SSI tab on the navigation bar of this website.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  52. Summer says:

    I am a 30 years old mother and have moderate to severe keratoconus, according to a cornea specialist, in both eyes. I wear contact lenses but they are not always tolerable enough wear, so sometimes I can’t to go to work or drive for days or weeks. If I can’t wear either of my lenses there is no way for me to see well enough to go anywhere substantial (i.e. grocery shopping, school pick-ups.) I recently had to just quit my job in home care. I have no idea if I am eligible for disability or where/how to even start

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Summer,

      If your low vision is correctable with glasses when you can’t tolerate the contacts, a claim probably will not be approved. If, on the other hand, your condition requires contacts for correction (glasses don’t work) and there is a record of your intolerance to contacts, it is possible you might be eligible. The best way to find out is to file a claim, though you might also want to discuss your problem with contacts with your eye doctor. (You can read about low vision claims in the article “Can I Get Disability from Social Security If I Have Low Vision, but Am Not Totally Blind?” under the “Claims Process” tab on the navigation bar of this website.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  53. Jo Lynn Powell says:

    I recently lost my right eye in a work related accident. I had to have emergency surgery and they could not save it.I am having difficulties with alot of things as to trying to use my good eye.
    Would I qualify for any disability? This happen last month.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jo,

      Whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability depends on whether your visual loss keeps you from working in occupations you have done in the past and if you are a younger worker (typically, younger than in your fifties) from other occupations that you could perform if you did not have visual limitations. (Note that if you have other limitations due to other conditions, such as lifting or standing or sitting limitations that don’t disable you by themselves, you should still list them on your application.) If you feel you cannot work, you might consider requesting vocational rehabilitation services as part of your workers comp claim for training into an occupation that you could perform with your limitations. You can pursue both disability benefits and voc rehab services simultaneously.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  54. Candy Sheets says:

    I am a 37 year old nurse. My vision has always been poor but it’s gotten so bad lately that I’m terrified of making mistakes with medications. I have a very hard time seeing syringes and med sheets. I also have to have alot of light to be able to focus enough to see to do my work. This in itself is causing my anxiety to be 100 times worse. I have a huge floater in my right eye that causes my vision to go in and out. I’m type 2 diabetic, hypothyroidism, and hypertension. I’m beginning to be very concerned that my vision is going to cause me to no longer practice nursing. Would I qualify for ssdi? I’m afraid to even say anything because I don’t want to lose my nursing license or drivers license. But it’s getting harder and harder to hide.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Candy,

      If you have not already done so, get a thorough eye exam that includes examination and tests for eye health. This will result in a diagnosis of your vision problems and/or the best correction you can get with glasses. The information will be needed in case you decide you have to stop work and apply for disability. Whether or not you are approved will depend on your work history and transferable skills to other occupations that may not require the same level of close visual acuity.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  55. billy says:

    Hi Kay
    So DDs doctors don’t think my vision is bad as my other eye doctors stated on my file and its crazy cause I couldn’t see anything on the snellin chart it was so blurry and my antorny wrote closing arugements that I should meet the listing for blindness, so they said I don’t meet the listing for blindness they didn’t deny me thoe they just set me on another exam like what can I do to prove them my vision is really bad plus I have hypertension, chf,afib,obestity, lympema, fatigue,

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Billy,

      At this point all you can do is attend the examination. Also, it is worth noting that you could be approved based on low vision even if you do not meet the statutory blindness guidelines. The reason for approval affects you if you try to work while receiving benefits; but otherwise, the reason for approval has little impact.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  56. jim says:

    I am 51 living in fl. My vision is 20 / 200. I have glaucoma can I get disability

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jim,

      If the vision in your best eye is 20/200 or worse, you will qualify for disability benefits based on statutory blindness.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  57. Victoria says:

    Hi so my situation is I was that I had rhabdomyosarcoma in my left eye as a baby. Never wanted to admit I had some disabilities and my parents didn’t either. I have poor poor vision in my left eye and right eye is very well (dont know measurements) but I’m super sensitive to any type of light..even my phone, computers, in grocery stores or warehouses, etc. (due to radiation). I’m 24 and been working since I was 15. I have a hard time keeping a steady job because of my constant eye build up causing me to be in the restroom several times a day at the work place trying to stop the irritation. It’s a side effect that is not fixable which leads me to constant eye infections from all the touching. I’ve tried so many different kind of jobs, now in an office job. On the computer 8-10 hours a day and still can’t go a day of work without a migraine from trying to focus and not go wash my eye out. Would I qualify for any type of assistance?
    I summarized everything..if u need more info please let me know.(:

    Sincerely,
    Victoria

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Victoria,

      I don’t know whether your condition is severe enough to qualify for disability benefits. The only way to find out is to file a claim. I suggest that you talk with your eye doctor about whether he is willing to make a statement about your symptoms and your limitations. If you have lost jobs because of your eye problems, statements from those employers about performance problems and what they observed on the job about your condition could help a claim. Note that if you are earning $1,090 or more gross per month, you have to reduce your earnings to below that level before applying. Otherwise, you will be denied because you will be demonstrating that you can perform substantial gainful activity and, thus, are not disabled.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  58. Billy says:

    Hi kay
    I applied for ssi last year for chf ,afib,edema
    Got denied in October so I filed for reconsideration
    In November the examiner’s seen I had vision problems
    So ask me can I get a full eye exam which I. Did paid out of pocket
    My best correction is 20/400 in my good eye my other I’m blind
    Question is why are they now addressed my vision issues
    And what are my chances getting approval on this reconsideration
    Stage I see alot people say u can’t win. Til alj BT every case different
    My attorney says I meets the listing under 2.02 do u think i would be approve may 8 will make it a full year
    I’m just so worried I’ve never worked I’m 25

    Thanks

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Billy,

      It appears likely that you will approved based on being legally blind.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Billy says:

        Hi kay

        do ssa need to have the cause for my bad vision to be approved they just need my vision fields ,kus at my eye exam they couldn’t find any eye diseases vision just been bad since birth

        Thanks

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Billy,

          If the current eye exams show that you are either legally blind or have low vision to a degree that you meet the disability criteria, the cause of the vision impairment, whether known or unknown, will not matter.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

  59. 39yearoldmale says:

    I’m 39 years old. I worked in a lab for over a year in the oil/gas industry. I recently got laid off and I know partially, at least i was laid off because I was making mistakes due to poor vision.

    I cannot see at all out of my left eye, since birth. My “good eye” i have to have glasses to see but i experience pain (headaches) if i keep them on too long. I have 410/20 vision without corrective lenses. Could i qualify for disability?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear 39yearoldmale,

      To be approved on blindness, your corrected vision must be 20/200 or worse in your best eye or have a certain loss of peripheral vision in the best eye. If you don’t meet the criteria for blindness It is possible to be approved based on low vision rather than blindness. To be approved you would have to be unable to perform substantial gainful activity, which is usually defined as $1,090 gross wages monthly, in any occupation you have done in the past or in any new occupation you could perform if you did not have medical (in your case visual) impairments. The only way to find out whether you qualify would be to file a claim. If you do, I suggest that at the same time, you contact your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and/or the Blind Commission to see if you qualify for training or education to get you into an occupation that you could perform.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  60. Robin says:

    Hi thay say i have a rare ms or devic syndrome in my left eye hm and my right eye 20/30 and getting worse i just got a spinal tap done when should i put in for disability benefits im a bartender

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robin,

      It would be appropriate to apply for disability when you reach the point that you have to quit work because of your medical conditions.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Robin says:

        Im working on that now but thay say i have to be totally blind before I can apply is that true my boss is helping me with everything for disability

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Robin,

          You do not have to be totally blind to be approved for Social Security benefits. If you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity due to low vision, you will be approved. In most circumstances, as long as you are earning $1,090 or more gross per month, your claim based on low vision will be denied because your work will be considered substantial. If you are legally blind (not totally blind), you could be approved while working if your earnings are below $1,820 gross.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Robin says:

            Well i just was diagnosed with ms on the 20th of April my spinal tap came out positive for ms so what do i do now and thank you for being there for everybody

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Robin,

            Please see my two previous replies. If you are unable to work earning $1,090 per month, you should file an application.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

  61. Jen says:

    Hi Kay,
    I have a large (18mm) aneurysm resting on my left optic nerve which causes 2400 vision in my left eye. The right eye with correction is 20/30. I had brain surgery a couple months ago called “Coiling” where coils were placed inside the aneurysm to stop it from occluding the artery it’s attached and avoid a stroke.

    Now that I made it through the surgery, I know my conditions will stop me from working as a nurse. I’m concerned that my poor vision will cause inaccuracies when administering medication to my patients as well as while charting nurse notes accurately, etc.. I haven’t worked in five months as I’ve been unable due to multiple diagnoses (below) causing right side weakness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.

    I also have hypertension, asthma, Hyperthyroid, a fibrillation and other diagnoses.

    So, my question is if I’d qualify for Disability for poor vision along with the other problems I’m experiencing?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Jen,

      If you have been a nurse for most of your work history, your combination of impairments may qualify you for benefits. I suggest that you file an application being thorough in listing all your conditions, treatment history, limitations and restrictions. Also discuss your claim with your physicians so they know you are applying based on a combination of symptoms, not just what may be treated by that one doctor.

      If you are denied, appeal using an attorney. You do not have to pay any legal fees up front and you will pay attorney fees only if you are approved for benefits. Social Security law sets the amount your attorney can charge and the Social Security Administration pays the attorney directly from the retroactive award at the time it sends your back pay to you. So, it’s all very easy and risk-free.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  62. stacey says:

    Hi, I was wondering if I would possibly be approved due to having cogenital glaucoma, keratoconus, and astigmatism. I am currently working, but my vision is becoming worse and I am not able to fulfill my duties in an effective manner due to poor vision in both eyes even with the use of corrective lenses. I was told by my ophthalmologist that my vision would only be corrected by a corneal transplant.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Stacey,

      Whether or not your condition meets Social Security law’s definition of disability depends on your visual limitations and your work history and education. If you stop work or drop your work hours so that you are earning less than $1,090 a month, I suggest that you file an application to get a decision.

      In the meantime, you might contact the Commission for the Blind and/or Vocational Rehabilitation to find out whether there are any adaptive devices that you could be using that would allow you to continue working either in your present occupation or in another.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  63. LoToya says:

    I have a question. I’m wondering if I may qualify for disability? I have an eye disease called Kerataconus which causes my corneas to thin. I have been living with this condition for quite some time and was recently told by a surgeon that because the condition has progressed for so long the only thing I can do at this point is have corneal transplants.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear LoToya,

      You could qualify for disability benefits if you are legally blind or your eyesight otherwise keeps you from working.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  64. necosia says:

    I am LEGALLY blind and was approved for benefits alj on Jan 7 when will my benefits start are how soon

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Necosia,

      It takes one to three months to get benefits started depending on whether you were approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability (SSDI) or both.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  65. Denise says:

    My husband is 56 years old has driven commercial vehicles for more than 25 years. He was diagnosed with glaucoma about 8 years ago and has since had to apply for a federal waiver every two years thru the Vision Program at USDOT to maintain his CDL. They require his doctor to certify that he as sufficient vision to operate a commercial motor vehicle. We feel the doctor has hesitation to make that statement. If the doctor is unwilling to do that would he qualify for disability benefits because he cannot work in the field he’s worked in the past?
    Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Denise,

      Given your husband’s age and his long work history in one occupation, if he cannot perform that occupation he has a good chance of being approved for Social Security Disability.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

      • Susan says:

        Dear Kay,
        Can you tell me the percentage of blind or low vision folks who receive SSDI? I can only find the statistics for SSO (18.5% received SSO benefits). I found this on the NFB website.
        Thanks,
        Susan

  66. Bridget says:

    Hi! I have congenital glaucoma in both eyes as well as Amblyopia, and my doctor told me I am legally blind by measurement of peripheral vision being less than 20 degrees in the better eye. I have a daughter and so I cannot quit my job. I am a cook and completely incapable of doing the job safely at this point. My employer is looking the other way and allowing me to continue. Just today I filed my reconsideration for SSDI. My first app was denied because I was making over the 1800 a month limit. I am now paying for transportation services and I believe this puts me below SGA for blindness. Do you think I have a chance at winning this time around? How long can I expect to wait for a decision? My doctor wrote a letter recommendation the transportation and saying that this line of work isn’t acceptable anymore- do you think that will help?

    I live in the state of WA.

    Thank you!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Bridget,

      If you must have transportation services, rather than public transportation, the expenses may be allowed to reduce your gross earnings to below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level of $1,800 for individuals who are legally blind. The fact that the line of work in unacceptable will not be relevant because you are actually working. You might also investigate Blind Commission or Voc Rehab services to see whether you can get into another line of work.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  67. my my says:

    Hey I was born with poor vision and now my vision is 20/100 and can not be fixed even with corrective lenses. I’ve tried numerous time to get a license but was told I don’t qualify to ever get one. So I applied for ssi once and got denied and I was wondering is there any way I could get aproved

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear My My,

      To be approved for disability benefits, your low vision has to keep you from doing any occupation. You can apply again and appeal the denial. You can also contact the local Commission for the Blind and/or your state’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation or a private nonprofit such as Goodwill to get vocational guidance and perhaps training that will allow you to work with your reduced vision.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  68. Stevie D. Campbell says:

    I am Usher Syndrome (Deaf/Blind) My right eye worse 150/200 and left 60/200 but I still have low vision. I should put “Legally Blind” in my SS. Social Security Adm. still me “Deaf” that’s all. My doctor eye told supposed put “Usher Syndrome”. Can I work earn up yo $1,800?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Stevie,

      You should put your diagnosis of Usher Syndrome on your application, as advised by your doctor. I would also recommend that you state that you are legally blind with 150/200 and 60/200 vision. If you are approved as legally blind and you work, your work earnings will be considered substantial if you have $1,800 or more in gross wages or net self-employment earnings. If you are approved based on low vision (not blindness) the substantial earnings level will be $1,070.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  69. Tina Lake says:

    My husband is 49 years old and legally blind. It is from a condition, ocular albinism, that he was born with and does not change over time. He received SSI when he was younger and converted to SSD for a short time in his early twenties after establishing enough work credits. He then began earning too much money to continue to qualify. He has been employed most of his adult life, making a good income for most of it. There have been a few lengthy periods of unemployment because his condition limits his opportunities, but he has never pursued restarting his disability benefits. However, he lost his job in February of 2013 and has had difficulty obtaining a new job in his field (marketing). He did work for a short period of time, January – April, 2014 (earning above SGA for blindness), in a related but different field. However, the amount of reading and computer work required was very difficult for him because of his vision impairment. He has been unemployed since May 2, 2014. We now feel like the combination of his age and the limitations placed on him by his vision issues, make it highly unlikely that he will be able return to working at the level at which he has in the past. Therefore we are looking into his reapplying for disability benefits.

    Since he was approved in the past and his condition has never changed, and he is currently not working, it seems as if he should be approved again. However, we are confused with some things.
    When is his onset of disability date for a new application? February 2013? May 2014? or something different? Also, what waiting periods will and won’t apply to him since he received SSD in the past? He also received Medicare back then, so would he still have a waiting period for that or not? Finally, do you see any issues with him qualifying that we are not seeing?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Tina,

      Your husband may or may not be approved for Social Security Disability based on a current application. When he was approved previously, he did not have the same work experience and work skills and knowledge that he has now. At age forty-nine, he must be disabled from all occupations, not just work he has done in the past. Once he turns fifty, he has to be disabled only from work he has done in the past. All that said, given the severity of your husband’s condition, there’s always a possibility of approval and it would be wise to file an application to get a formal decision. He should claim February 2013 as his disability date and list his work in 2014 as an unsuccessful work attempt. Because it has been more than five years since your husband received benefits, if he is approved, he will have a five-month unpaid waiting period. He will also have a twenty-four month waiting period for Medicare.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  70. T.K. says:

    I’m blind in one eye and have glaucoma in the other eye. I also have mental and back problems. I just got a letter stating that I was approve for medical but they are waiting to see about non-medical approval.
    I would like to know if I get disability and later on decide to move to another state where the cost of living is higher would my monthly payment go up any.

    Thank you very much.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear T.K.,

      If you were approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI), your benefit amount will not change from state to state. If you are approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your payment could change if you move to a state that has an SSI state supplement.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  71. Barry says:

    (long question, sorry)
    I have low vision, but test around 20/100 with glasses but glasses distort my sense of space, and i have developed recent visual obstructions (like floaters) but i’d still test the same acuity and field.
    1: can this count as blind?

    I applied in 2009 and was denied because my work was deemed a type that could be substantially gainful (receptionist) yet I did not then and never in my 16 years working have earned near the income threshold (blind or otherwise).
    I was recently laid off and replaced and feel I face clear, but unprovable hiring discrimination when people know i don’t see well. the question is,
    A: when should i say my disability began (mine is a congenital birth to death eye condition, but I worked (earning about $800/mo gross) until a couple weeks ago?
    B: and can i site hiring discrimination (not just inability to perform a job) as part of the barrier to employment (it is obvious that i don’t see normally but I also have a disfigurement) and cite not having access to a driver’s license (often a job requirement–but most companies will not put that in writing)

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Barry,

      As you describe your vision, you do not qualify for Social Security Disability based on blindness. Theoretically, you might qualify based on low vision, but you have already been denied once. (Full-time receptionist work at minimum wage would result in substantial earnings.) If you apply again, I recommend having an attorney present you case. An alternative would be to contact the Department of Vocation Rehabilitation of your state and/or non-profit organizations such as Goodwill to help place you in work that is within your abilities, where you would not face discrimination.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • marlio salas says:

        Ok hi im 16 and im totally blind in my left eye and have a very poor vision in my right eye and my doctor told me that if i dont keep my glasses on at all times its a possibility that i could go fully blind so my question is would i be considered disabled with my eyes being this bad i mean ive never had a job before because my mom fears that something might happen and at this young at i have varquise vains in my right leg and it spreads bad and sorry if i spelled that wrong but am i disabled

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Marlio,

          If your family has limited income and assets, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I suggest that you discuss this with your parents and have them read the articles under the SSI tab on this website http://www.disabilityadvisor.com to see whether you might qualify financially. If you are not sure, apply to get a formal determination.

          Sincerely,
          Kay

          • Angel says:

            Hi Kay I went to the eye doctor recently in was told that my eye sight is 20/200 in both eyes, would i be eligible for ssi disability

          • Kay Derochie says:

            Dear Angel,

            You are legally blind so you medically qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSDI). Whether or not you are legible for SSI depends on whether your income and resources (assets) are below the SSI limits. To be eligible for SSDI, you need sufficient work credits from earnings that were taxed for Social Security. The amount needed depends on your age. I suggest that you file claims, if you are not able to work and earn $1,090 or more gross per month, to get a formal decision.

            Sincerely,
            Kay

  72. David Massey says:

    Being blind and receiving 1800.00 per month in 2014. Can I average 1800.00 per month for the 12 month period of 2014 or is it a flat 1800.00 per month no matter how many weeks are in a month?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear David,

      Social Security might average your earnings to determine whether you, as a blind individual, is engaging in substantial gainful activity; however, keep in mind that if your earnings are over $1,800 in some months, it would have to be under $1,800 in other months to result in an average under $1,800.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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