There are few things more worrisome than the thought of losing your eyesight or hearing. The ramifications for your life are overwhelming and continuing on with job may be too much to bear, at least at the beginning. Whether vision or hearing loss is caused by a traumatic incident at work, is genetic in nature or the result of an illness, the Social Security Disability system has certain safety nets in place to help. Let’s address the two topics separately.
A claim for SSDI benefits due to vision loss can evolve in two different ways. The easier of the two ways to get SSDI approval is through vision testing that shows the Claimant meets one of the Social Security Administration’s “listings”. Three separate listings deal with vision loss and if the Claimant’s testing shows that any of these listings are met, the claim is automatically granted.
Listing 2.02 is the simplest of the three. It simply states that the remaining vision in the better eye is 20/200 or less after correctional medical actions have been taken. If the Claimant’s has one eye that tests at 20/200 and another that tests worse than that, they are, for all intents and purposes, legally blind. To be clear, 20/20 vision, which we have all heard of, means that when the eye chart is placed 20 feet in front of the patient, they will read the chart as if it is, in fact, 20 feet away. On the other hand, 20/200 means that the claimant will read a chart that is 20 feet away with the accuracy that would be expected if the chart were actually 200 feet away.
Listing 2.03 and Listing 2.04 get quite a bit more technical. They rely on much more advanced testing that measure things like visual field efficiency (must be 20% or less), visual efficiency percentage (20% or less) and visual impairment value (1.00 or greater). These tests and values are testing for what we often call “tunnel vision”. These listings will often require the help of a lawyer to prosecute your claim. An experienced SSDI attorney knows how to take the testing results from your doctor and coordinate them with the Social Security Administration to make the medical evidence as clear as possible.
Earlier, we mentioned a second way a claimant may qualify for SSDI benefits so let’s address that now. Many people have vision issues that are heard to measure or even change in the course of a day or week. They may not always meet one of the standards described above. This claimant may still be able to win a difficult SSDI claim with the help of the right Social Security Disability attorney. The attorney will have to demonstrate to the Administrative Law Judge that the claimant is having marked or extreme difficulties performing basic tasks required in almost any job. These tasks can include reading, writing, performing intricate manual labor skills or work that requires a certain level of hand-eye coordination.
It should be mentioned that, in vision cases, the work requirements to qualify for benefits are significantly reduced. Instead of needing 40 work quarters, the claimant may only need to be “Fully Insured” which requires the Claimant only have one or more work quarters of coverage for each year after the year in which the individual turned 21. Make sure your SSDI attorney is aware of these relaxed requirements for vision claims as they rarely come up in practice. It will be key that the attorney can lay this formula out for the Administrative Law Judge.
A Note from American Disability Alliance
American Disability Alliance is dedicated to helping you through this difficult time. No one expects to have to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. But now that you are, we will guide you through the process knowing how difficult your circumstances have become. ADA gives you access to a dedicated team of disability lawyers, advocates and other professionals that know the Social Security Disability process and are on the cutting edge of new ideas and SSDI information.
You deserve access to your disability attorney and regular updates on your claim. We at ADA hope to start a partnership with all of our clients with you. We’ve found this to be the way to achieve the best results for our clients. We will share information, strategy and goals in order to make the SSDI process efficient, reassuring and, of course, successful.
ADA will never forget that it is a privilege to do the work that gets honest, working people back on their feet with disability benefits. This is our mission and guides every decision we make, from how we assist our clients to who we hire.