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Blind or Low Vision & Social Security

By gotdenied-administration-July 20, 2015


Unique rules apply for blind applicants seeking benefits. Blind/low vision individuals may receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Determining blindness for both programs depends on the same medical requirements.

According to Social Security, the vision of an individual considered to be blind, and therefore possibly eligible for benefits:

  • Cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the individual’s better eye


  • Has a 20 degree or less visual field in the individual’s better eye

Low Vision

An individual with vision problems who is not considered blind by Social Security’s definition may still qualify for disability if the individual’s vision by itself or in addition to other health problems prevents the individual from working. However, Social Security disability benefits require the individual to have previously worked a job at which he/she paid Social Security taxes. Alternatively, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) requires no work history for disability involving blindness, but income and resources must not exceed Social Security’s dollar limit in order to receive SSI.

Work Credits

A blind individual without enough work credits to receive Social Security Disability benefits may work after he/she becomes blind in order to receive disability benefits the individual was previously ineligible for. Additionally, benefits may be received if a parent or spouse has sufficient credits from his/her own earnings.

Disability Freeze

Blind individuals who continue to work and do not receive disability benefits may file a “freeze” with Social Security. Individuals whose earnings decreased because of their blindness may have the years of decreased earnings excluded from Social Security’s calculations of his/her future retirement or disability benefits. This process increases benefits because benefits are based on average lifetime earnings.

If you have any questions, or would like us to handle your case, call the Law Offices of William Biebuyck PLLC, toll free at 844-GOT DENIED ( or (844) 468-3643), or send us information in the evaluation box on the Home page, and we will contact you promptly.