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Can I receive disability for blindness or low vision?

People in New Jersey who are suffering from blindness or low vision might be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. There are two disability programs for people who are blind. They are Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Both use the same rules to determine whether the person is blind or not. Understanding how these programs work, who is eligible and when benefits are available are important when filing a claim.

The Social Security Administration considers a person blind if the vision cannot be corrected to be better than 20/200 in the stronger eye or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the stronger eye. It is also possible to receive disability if the claimant is not blind. The SSA has a definition of blindness and if this is not met, the combination of vision impairment with other health issues can stop a person from being able to work. This can be sufficient for an approval to get benefits.

With disability, the claimant must have worked for a certain time period at a job at which Social Security taxes were paid. With SSI for disability and blindness, it is not necessary to have worked, but the income and resources must be below a certain point. Social Security taxes accumulate credits toward benefits. For a person who is blind, these can be accrued at any time during work. Credit for work done after becoming blind can be used if there were not enough credits beforehand. Parents' earnings and spousal earnings can also be used if there were not enough credits for disability for the claimant on their own.

These are the basic requirements to receive SSI or SSDI for blindness. There are other rules regarding working and receiving benefits, for earnings after age 55, and for a disability freeze. When a blind person is seeking disability, having assistance from a lawyer who is experienced in helping clients receive SSD benefits can help with your claim.

Source: ssa.gov, "If You're Blind Or Have Low Vision -- How We Can Help," accessed on Jan. 2, 2017

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