When an illness or injury leaves someone struggling with normal activities, chances are it may also prevent that person from working to earn a living. This can be a devastating blow to someone who may already be dealing with the added expenses of medical treatments, therapies or special equipment to manage a disabling condition. Fortunately, the disability benefits available through the Social Security Administration can make a difference in the lives of those who qualify.
Applying for these benefits is often a challenge, and many must provide significant documentation of their conditions and their financial need. If your disability is related to blindness or low vision, the SSA has special rules that may be to your advantage.
Qualifying for disability benefits
Like all other conditions, the SSA requires those who are blind or have low vision to meet certain medical criteria. For example, you will have to show medical documentation that your vision will not improve beyond 20/200 in the eye that is the least affected. If this is not the case, the eye that is least affected may have a visual field of 20 degrees or less. Either of these conditions must last at least one year.
On the other hand, the SSA may consider you eligible for disability benefits if your visual impairment prevents you from working or if your vision problems along with other adverse health conditions prevent you from maintaining gainful employment. As with all SSDI claims, you must have earned a certain number of credits or have a family member whose credits qualify you for benefits. You may continue to earn those credits after you lose your sight.
Seeking a disability freeze
One special rule for those who qualify for disability due to blindness or low vision is the disability freeze. This exception allows the SSA to exclude from their calculations of your benefits the time when you are working but earning less money because of your visual impairment. This means your benefits may be higher since the SSA calculates your benefits based on your lifetime earnings. However, in order to receive the disability freeze, you must apply for it.
In fact, the process of obtaining benefits begins with a solid and thorough application. You may find this a challenge, but the results are worth the effort. You also have resources available to assist you at any step of the way, including a skilled Alabama attorney who has experience in guiding people through the disability application process.