Blind man using his cane to walk on sidewalk.

Blindness and Social Security Disability Benefits

Q: Do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits if I am blind?

Disability Attorneys of California often help blind or low vision people obtain Social Security disability benefits. 

Sometimes people are born blind or with low vision and other times, they become blind or lose vision later in life as a result of an injury, accident, illness, or underlying medical condition. Depending on your particular circumstances, you may be able to apply for disability benefits through one or both of the two Social Security disability benefits programs available through the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) — provided you satisfy the government’s definition of being “disabled” and other program-specific requirements. 

The SSA Blue Book – a listing of qualifying medical conditions for disability status – includes multiple listings pertaining to blindness or low vision. In the event you don’t meet the vision loss listings in the Blue Book, a skilled disability benefits attorney may be able to make the case that your particular vision loss, along with another chronic health condition, should still qualify you for disability benefits. 

Which disability benefits program should I apply for?

Qualifying for disability benefits under the first program, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits, the applicant will need to satisfy the requisite number of work credits and will have had to pay into the Social Security system through payroll deductions for a requisite number of years prior to becoming disabled.

The second program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) does not require any prior work experience. SSI is available only to those who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age and who have extremely limited income and financial resources below the government-set threshold.

Generally, blind people will qualify for one or both benefit programs if they or their disability attorney submits a complete and well-supported application. 

While the financial assistance is necessary and welcome, it’s unfortunate that blind people – like many other members of the disabled community– are often subjected to discrimination and bullying. 

Recently two blind men — who had just finished speaking at a conference about the issues those with service animals face — were confronted by an animal rights activist who reportedly accused them of animal cruelty simply for using guide dogs. Fortunately, bystanders came to their defense as the argument heated up and threatened to become physical.

If you or a loved one is blind or low vision and need assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of California at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Los Angeles, we represent disabled clients and their families throughout California in all aspects of disability law.