Yes, individuals who are blind or have significant visual impairments can qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits through SSDI and SSI programs.

To qualify for the blind disability benefits, an applicant needs to submit medical evidence that may prove their disability is preventing them from engaging in day-to-day activities. Furthermore, they need to prove their disability has lasted for at least 12 months or more.

What is Blindness?

The SSA has a specific definition of blindness, which usually involves having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye using a correcting lens or a limitation in your visual field to 20 degrees diameter or less.

Blindness is a visual impairment characterized by the complete or near-complete loss of sight ability. It’s a condition in which an individual’s eyesight is severely impaired to the point where they cannot perceive visual stimuli, distinguish objects, or perceive light. 

Is blindness a disability under work?

Yes, blindness is generally considered a disability in work and employment. Various laws and regulations exist to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment.

Is blindness considered a long term disability?

Yes, blindness is typically considered a long-term disability as it is a permanent condition that significantly affects a person’s ability to perform daily activities and work. Blind individuals often qualify for disability benefits and accommodations to support their needs.

Types of Blindness

Blindness can be categorized into different types based on the underlying causes and the specific visual functions affected. Some common types of blindness:

  • Total Blindness: Total blindness refers to the complete absence of vision. Individuals who are blind cannot perceive light, shapes, colors, or any visual information.
  • Partial Blindness: Partial blindness, also known as visual impairment, encompasses a range of conditions with some remaining level of vision, but it is significantly limited. 
  • Congenital Blindness: Congenital blindness is present from birth and can be caused by genetic factors, developmental issues during pregnancy, or other congenital conditions affecting the eyes or visual pathways.
  • Acquired Blindness: Acquired blindness refers to the loss of vision after birth. It can result from various causes, including eye diseases, injuries, infections, and medical conditions.
  • Cortical Blindness: Cortical blindness occurs when the brain’s primary visual cortex is damaged, preventing the brain from processing visual information correctly. 

Common symptoms of Blindness

Symptoms of blindness can vary depending on the underlying cause and the degree of visual impairment. Some of the common symptoms:

  • Loss of Vision: The most apparent symptom is significant vision loss. This can range from difficulty seeing fine details to a complete absence of visual perception.
  • Inability to See Light: Some individuals might not be able to perceive light at all. This can result in complete darkness, even in well-lit environments.
  • Difficulty Recognizing Objects: Individuals with vision loss might have trouble recognizing objects, people’s faces, or other visual stimuli.
  • Blurred Vision: Blurriness or distortion of visual images can occur, making it difficult to see things.
  • Reduced Peripheral Vision: Loss of peripheral vision, also known as tunnel vision, is common in some eye conditions. 

Blindness can also trigger many disorders, such as anxiety, diabetes-related retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and depression

Eligibility Criteria for Blindness Disability

The eligibility criteria for receiving disability benefits related to blindness are as follows:

  • Legal Blindness: You must meet the legal definition of blindness, which often involves proving that your visual impairment meets the criteria set by the SSA.
  • Duration of Impairment: Your blindness must be expected to last for at least 12 months or be terminal.
  • Inability to Work: Your blindness must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (work) as determined by the SSA.
  • Work Credits: For SSDI, you’ll also need to have earned enough work credits by paying Social Security taxes over time. On the other hand, SSI is a need-based program and doesn’t require work credits, but income and asset limits exist.
  • Medical Evidence: You’ll need to provide medical evidence of your blindness, including documentation from medical professionals and specialists who have examined your condition.

How to Apply for Blindness Disability Benefits?

Applying for blindness disability benefits typically involves several steps to demonstrate your eligibility for support due to visual impairment. 

  • Collect essential documents: Medical records, diagnosis details, and documentation from eye specialists confirming your visual impairment, its severity, and its impact on your daily life.
  • Review the eligibility criteria: You need to check the eligibility criteria of the chosen program, such as SSDI or SSI.
  • Complete Application: Fill out the form accurately, providing all required information about your medical condition, work history, and other relevant details.
  • Medical Evidence: Attach medical documentation supporting your visual impairment diagnosis. 
  • Submit Application: Submit your completed application and supporting documents as directed by the program.
  • Review Decision: Once your application is processed, you’ll receive a review decision. You’ll receive information about your benefits and any necessary next steps if approved.
  • Appeal if Necessary: You can appeal the decision if your application is denied.

Need Legal Help? Contact a Disability Lawyer

Whether you need assistance with disability benefits, accommodations, or navigating legal complexities, a Social Security disability lawyer can provide guidance. They understand the intricacies of disability law and can help you navigate the legal process to secure support and rights.

FAQs on Blindness disability benefits

Blindness can significantly impact daily life by limiting one's ability to perform tasks that rely on vision, such as reading, driving, or recognizing faces. It can lead to challenges in education, employment, and social interactions, requiring adaptive techniques and assistive technologies for independent living.
One of the leading causes of blindness globally is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), particularly in older individuals. AMD affects the central vision and can result in severe vision loss or blindness. Other significant causes include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataracts, each contributing to many blindness cases worldwide.
Legally blind is often defined as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or worse in the better eye with the best possible correction or a visual field that is limited to 20 degrees in diameter or less. This means that a person with 20/200 vision would need to be 20 feet away from an object as clearly as someone with normal vision could see it from 200 feet away.

Disability Conditions That May Qualify For Benefits

Blindness Brain Tumor AFIB Autism
Borderline Personality Disorder Cancer Narcolepsy PTSD
Vertigo Schizophrenia Seizure Dyslexia
Celiac Disease Anxiety Depression ADHD
Agoraphobia Alopecia Asthma Bipolar
Breast Cancer Dementia Dysautonomia Epilepsy
Fibromyalgia Hearing Loss lupus POTS
Scoliosis Sleep Apnea Diabetes