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Legal blindness can qualify you for disability benefits

When applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of a disability, it's important to know that special regulations are in place for consumers with low vision or blindness.

Under the rules of the Social Security Administration, claimants are considered to be legally blind when their vision is unable to be corrected to more than 20/200 in their dominant eye. The determination is also made when a person's visual field is no more than 20 degrees using corrective lenses.

This designation remains, even though many legally blind individuals retain some of their sight and may even read if the type is large enough.

There are also potential disability benefits that those who fall short of the legally blind status might still be eligible for if the vision difficulties — either alone or in conjunction with other medical problems — create barriers to employment.

Because low vision and legal blindness have such a major impact on people's ability to hold down a job, the limit for monthly earnings is usually higher for this group than other disabled workers without the visual difficulties. At present, the limit per month is $1,950.

There are also other requirements involved in SSI benefits, such as having sufficiently low income otherwise and the inability to earn income because of the disability from which you suffer.

Sometimes the determination by the Social Security judge is a denial of benefits, which frequently occurs on claimants' first attempts to claim disability. If that is the result in your case, it's important to understand that you have the right to appeal the decision. A Kentucky attorney who is familiar with SSI cases can assist with any appeals.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: Special Rules For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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