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Can I Work With Vision Loss?

Vision loss is a medical condition in which you lose your eyesight, entirely or in part. It almost goes without saying that there are many kinds of work which require you to have full use of your vision. Most kinds of work require a worker to be able to have eyesight on one level or another, even if it is aided by corrective lenses. Some jobs even have specific vision requirements, disqualifying people whose vision loss exceeds a certain level.

Experiencing vision loss can be tragic. In addition to the effects it can have on your ability to continue working, vision loss can touch practically every aspect of your life. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration recognizes vision loss as a medically identifiable cause of disability.

Because vision loss is a listed impairment in the Social Security Disability system’s Blue Book, there are solid principles in place for SSA administrators to use in determining whether you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on vision loss.

Generally speaking, when determining eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits for vision loss, the SSA will consider the effects of vision loss in the better of your two eyes. The things the SSA will consider about the better of your two eyes include:

  • Loss of efficiency of vision
  • Remaining visual acuity
  • Remaining peripheral vision

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits based on the listing for vision loss, both of your eyes must have worse than 20/200 vision even after wearing your prescribed eyeglasses of contact lenses. However, this doesn't mean that you necessarily can’t qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if your eyesight is better than this.

If you have suffered vision loss that isn’t quite as severe as the SSA listing, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits if your can demonstrate that your vision loss, combined with any other disabling conditions that you may have, makes it unreasonable to expect you to continue performing any kind of work that you have done before, or for which a person of your age and education level could reasonably be trained.

Total vision loss qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits. Usually, complete vision loss is an open and shut case. If you are turned down for Social Security Disability benefits and your vision loss is complete (or even worse than 20/200 in both eyes) you should contact a Social Security Disability lawyer right away for help with your appeal.

Vision Loss and Your Ability to Perform Physical Work

While vision loss may not directly impact your ability to perform such tasks as walking, pushing, pulling, lifting, and bending, it will most likely affect your ability to do any of these activities safely in a typical work environment. Most claimants have little trouble demonstrating that they are no longer capable of performing physical work if they have suffered significant vision loss.

However, if your vision is correctable, you are likely to be turned down for Social Security Disability benefits unless there are extenuating circumstances (such as vision loss combined with other medically verifiable physical or mental impairments) that cause your vision loss to disqualify you for all available work.

Vision Loss and Your Ability to Perform Sedentary Work

Most of the sedentary work available requires being able to see. While vision loss doesn’t directly impact your ability to sit for long periods of time, it can certainly affect your ability to perform many of the typical work activities required for most sedentary jobs. Demonstrating that you are unable to perform available sedentary work is not generally difficult for those who have experienced severe vision loss.

Of course, milder forms of vision loss which can be corrected with eyeglasses or other enhancement devices are not likely to qualify you for Social Security Disability benefits in and of themselves, though your vision loss may still be considered as part of a larger picture of disabling conditions if the combined effect renders you unable to perform any kind of physical or sedentary work for which you are qualified.

If you have questions about your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits due to vision loss or any other condition or combination of conditions, you should seek the advice of a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer. A Social Security Disability attorney can help you determine whether to press a Social Security disability claim, and can represent you at all stages of the Social Security disability claim and appeals process.