How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Glaucoma

  • May 27, 2021

Glaucoma is a serious eye condition. It’s the number one cause of blindness and it can strike people who are as young as 40, even though it’s primarily thought of as something that affects mainly seniors. The fact is that more than a million people are diagnosed with glaucoma each year and for many of those people glaucoma makes it too difficult to work. If you have glaucoma and you can’t work because of it you can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. The only requirements that you need to meet in order to file a claim for disability benefits is that you must have worked in the past and paid taxes, and you must expect that you won’t be able to work for at least a year because of the glaucoma.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits Because Of Glaucoma

Before your claim for disability benefits can be approved, you’ll need to meet the requirements that are established in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is the official SSA listing of all medical conditions that qualify for benefits and the requirements that must be met in order to be approved. Glaucoma does not have its own listing in the Blue Book. But there are three different listings dealing with blindness that glaucoma can fall under. Essentially you need to be able to show with your medical records that you meet one of these requirements:

  • remaining visual acuity in the better eye must be 20/200 or less
  • You cannot see more than 20 degrees to the left or the right of a fixed point or you have an MD of 22 decibels or greater, determined by automated static threshold perimetry that measures the central 30 degrees of the visual field
  • the visual efficiency of your better eye is 20% or less

You will need to submit eye exams and other test results to provide proof that you meet one of those requirements before your claim can be approved. If you can’t work because of the vision loss caused by glaucoma but you also don’t meet one of those requirements you can still qualify for disability benefits with a Medical Vocational Allowance.

Medical Vocational Allowance

In order to qualify for disability benefits through a Medical Vocational Allowance your eye doctor needs to complete a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation for you. You can get the form on the SSA’s website. In this evaluation sheet your doctor needs to describe in detail all of your vision loss symptoms and how your vision loss limits your ability to work. Then, you can submit your claim for benefits, the medical documentation that you have, and the RFC evaluation. The SSA will look at all of those things and your age, your work history, and other factors. They will decide if there is any kind of work that you can do with the limitations that you have now. And if they decide there’s no work that you can do then you will be eligible for disability benefits.

Filing A Claim

The claims process can take some time to go through, so you should file a claim for disability benefits right away. Make an appointment at your local SSA branch office and bring all of your documents with you to the appointment. An expert at the SSA office will help you file your claim.

Resources:

Glaucoma Research Foundation: https://www.glaucoma.org/

Blue Book: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/blue-book

SSA Requirements: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/2.00-SpecialSensesandSpeech-Adult.htm

Residual Capacity Evaluation: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/blog/residual-functional-capacity-what-is-rfc

Local SSA Office: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/state-social-security-disability