Although humans are blessed with many senses, it is the sense of sight that is the dominant one for most of our societal constructs, including most forms of work. Sight is necessary for many jobs for safety and other reasons. People who cannot see may struggle to secure gainful employment as a result of their condition.
While companies can and should make every reasonable attempt to accommodate disabilities among their existing workforce and applicants qualified for open positions within the company, total blindness often requires such intensive accommodations that employers can theoretically claim they constitute an undue hardship, especially if the business is small.
Given that blindness can impact both the ability to secure a job and the ability to operate independently, it is one of many conditions that the Social Security Administration considers a qualifying condition for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Total blindness and severe cases of partial blindness may qualify
The process of losing vision is often a gradual one that occurs over many years. It often results either from age or from ongoing exposure to damaging elements, such as harsh chemicals or bright lights. Having mild to moderate vision impairments is relatively common, especially among older adults.
Most people find ways to continue living their life without any disruption, including performing their job and enjoying total independence. There are often medical options available, ranging from external lenses to surgery. The same may not be true for people who experience full blindness or loss of vision.
Someone who hasn’t yet reached total blindness can still qualify for SSDI benefits if their vision meets certain standards. Specifically, if medical treatment can’t improve vision in your better eye to at least 20/200 or if you have a field of vision that is 20 degrees or smaller, and the condition has lasted or will last for at least 12 months, you can potentially qualify for SSDI benefits.
Applying for SSDI benefits is difficult even in the best of circumstances, but those with severe vision impairments may rely entirely on someone else to fill out the paperwork on their behalf. Getting the help you need early in the process can both improve your odds of success and help connect you with the benefits you need sooner.