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How the SSA evaluates visual disorders

Californians who have certain types of visual disorders may be unable to work. People who develop disabling conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. It is important to understand how the Social Security Administration evaluates visual disorders when people apply for benefits.

Visual disorders include a variety of disorders of the optic nerve, the eye, the optic tracts or the brain that affect the visual acuity. The SSA defines blindness as when a person's central visual acuity is no more than 20/200 in the stronger eye with correction. The agency also considers people to meet the statutory definition of blindness if their visual fields are limited to enough of a degree that their central visual acuities are less than 20/200.

The SSA will need medical documentation from an eye examination showing that the measurements of the eyes meet the visual acuity requirements as described. If the blindness has resulted from a loss of visual acuity, the SSA will also need information about what caused the visual loss.

People who have severe visual acuity losses may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. It is important to submit thorough documentation when people apply for benefits. The SSA denies a majority of initial claims for benefits that are made, but people have a right to appeal the agency's initial determinations. When people receive notices that their claims have been denied, they might benefit by seeking help from experienced Social Security disability lawyers who can help clients to supplement the evidence in their claim files in order to present more robust appeals. They might ask that the clients continue to see their doctors and submit to additional tests so that the medical documentation supporting their claims clearly shows that they should be approved for Social Security disability benefits.

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