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What tests are acceptable for best-corrected visual acuity?

This blog has previously discussed vision loss as it related to Social Security disability. Those who are deemed legally blind, or have significant vision loss even after being corrected, may be able to qualify for SSD benefits, enabling them to receive compensation to help cover medical expenses and lost wages. Yet, the rules for determining vision loss can be painstakingly complicated. Therefore, it may be beneficial to discuss how the Social Security Administration assesses vision loss.

As is the case with most injuries and illnesses, the SSA turns to medical evidence when deciding whether an individual meets federal requirements for SSD. Typically, though, when it comes to medical testing, the SSA will only accept certain methods. This is true with regard to vision loss as well. For many with vision loss, the SSA will want to determine their best-corrected visual acuity. This determines what can be seen from a distance of 20 feet.

There are multiple acceptable tests for measuring best-corrected visual acuity. The first test utilizes the counting of fingers, the recognition of hand movement, or the perception of light. The SSA will also accept test results that utilized a specialized lens, cycloplegic refraction, or visual evoked response. The SSA will not, however, accept evidence obtained from pinhole or automated refraction acuity testing.

Interpreting and using medical records to one's advantage can be challenging in its own right, but it can be even more difficult when it is placed under the SSA's microscope. Those who believe they suffer from a vision disability therefore need to ensure that they understand federal regulations and their medical records. They also need to know how to use the law and the facts to their advantage. Those who feel they need assistance with putting forth the strongest claim possible may find legal assistance beneficial.

Source: Social Security Administration, "2.00 Special Senses and Speech - Adult," accessed on Dec. 24, 2016

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