Macular Degeneration and Social Security Disability

Macular degeneration is a chronic eye disease that causes vision loss. The macula is located in the center of the retina and when this tissue begins to deteriorate, it can cause blind or blurred spots in the field of vision. Symptoms of macular degeneration include:

  • Difficulty reading in low light
  • Printed words appear increasingly blurry
  • Significant trouble recognizing faces
  • A blind spot in the center of the field of vision
  • Overall vision becomes increasingly blurry

Applying for Social Security Disability with Macular Degeneration

Those who suffer from macular degeneration may have a difficult time maintaining employment. The vision impairment caused by this condition can make it impossible to operate a vehicle, read, or even differentiate between faces. If your vision loss makes it impossible for you to work, you may wish to apply for Social Security Disability benefits and receive financial assistance.

Before applying for SSD benefits, it is important to understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates claims to determine eligibility. The SSA listings book, often referred to as the blue book, includes qualifying medical conditions and their requirements for approval. While macular degeneration is not specifically listed in the book, there are listings that pertain to vision loss.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Vision Loss

Regardless of the cause of your vision impairment, if you have low vision, partial blindness, or total blindness, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.

In order to meet the SSA blue book listing for central visual acuity, you must meet the following requirement:

  • Your vision in your better eye, with correction, must be 20/200 or worse. This is considered to be the threshold for legal blindness. If you have one eye that meets this requirement, but the other eye has vision better than 20/200, it is likely that you will not qualify

While most people with macular degeneration will qualify under the central visual acuity listing, if they qualify, some may consider the listing for visual field loss. In order to qualify under this listing, you must meet at least one of the following requirements in your better eye:

  • Visual field efficiency of 20% or less
  • Mean deviation of -22 or worse
  • Widest diameter of your visual field is no more than 20 degrees from the point of fixation

Necessary Medical Evidence

In order to receive approval for Social Security Disability benefits, you must provide medical records that reflect that your eyesight is 20/200 or worse, or prove the limitations of your visual field. It will be necessary for you to undergo testing with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. The testing may require you to read from a chart using corrective lenses, or to undergo visual evoked response testing. Any test results that demonstrate your visual impairments must be included in your SSD application.

Hiring an Attorney When Applying for Social Security Disability

Consulting an attorney that will help you avoid costly mistakes and increase the likelihood that you will receive benefits.