According to the National Federation of Blind, approximately 1.3 million people in the United States are legally blind. Legal blindness occurs when an individual’s central visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye or having a visual field of 20 degrees or less. As you can imagine, having limited vision poses a huge barrier to employment. There are two general ways you may be found disabled based on legal blindness. The first way is meeting or equaling one of Social Security’s Listings. The second way is to show due to your vision loss you are unable to perform both your past work and also any other type of work in the national economy.
More often than not, when someone who is legally blind applies for disability benefits they will be found disabled based upon one of Social Security’s Listing’s. SSA’s “Listings” is a list of conditions that have been deemed so severe that if you suffer from them you will automatically be found disabled. It can be difficult to prove you meet or equal one of Social Security’s Listings as the medical evidence required is fairly strict. In terms of legal blindness, you would consider Listing 2.02 for loss of central visual acuity. This listing requires medical evidence documenting that the remaining vision in the better after best correction to be 20/200 or less. Another listing you may consider is listing 2.04 for loss of visual efficiency. This listing requires you to show a visual efficiency percentage of 20 or less after best correction. Or, you could show a visual impairment value of 1.00 or greater after best correction. SSA will consider whichever listing best suites your situation when determining if you are eligible for disability benefits. It is important to remember to make sure you are treating with the correct medical professional for your condition. Generally, an individual suffering from legal blindness will be treating with an ophthalmologist. This is the individual who would have the best evidence to support you meeting one of Social Security’s listings.
If you have been diagnosed as being legally blind, but you do not meet a listing, you likely would be unable to perform most jobs that involve the use of a computer. You would also likely not be able to perform production or pace type jobs which would include labor intensive positions or factory line work. Now, just because you are legally blind does not mean you do not have some vision, albeit very limited. Some individuals may even be able to work on a computer. It will depend upon the extent of your vision loss.
Certainly the older you are when you stop working the easier it will be to obtain disability benefits. If you are age 62 when you lose your vision, you will more than likely have an easier time obtaining benefits than someone who is age 30. The reason being is that Social Security believes the older you are the less likely it is you can be retrained to do other work. So as long as you are found to be unable to perform the work you have performed within the past fifteen years, you will likely be approved for benefits as social security does not think you could learn a new skill set at your advanced age. Yes this is the one time that being older is helpful!