Previously, in our discussion of the impending 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment to SSD benefits, we noted that blind individuals have some specific thresholds applicable to them. Let’s take a deeper dive into the information provided by the SSA as to the kind of support that is available for blind or low-vision individuals who cannot work due to their disability.
First, just what does the SSA consider to be blindness? One criteria is that vision correction cannot improve sight beyond 20/200 in one’s better eye. Alternatively, for a minimum of one year, the visual field in one’s better eye has been no greater than 20 degrees — this can be one year that has passed, or an expected duration of one year or more.
It’s important to note that being able to work to a certain degree won’t preclude one from receiving disability benefits entirely. Blind workers in 2018 will be able to earn up to $1,970 per month — significantly more than workers disabled for reasons other than blindness. And if blind workers are able to work through self-employment, the SSA does not measure the amount of time spent on the business in determining eligibility for benefits.
Finally, workers who are blind and who are at least 55 years old may not suffer a termination of SSD benefits if they do exceed $1,970 in monthly earnings. If they are doing work that requires less skill or ability than the work they used to do before turning 55, their benefits will simply be suspended. Payments will resume any time monthly earnings drop back within the $1,970 threshold.
We’ll continue this discussion in a follow-up post, as there are additional benefits and considerations of which blind individuals should be aware. In the meantime, a legal professional can always assist with specific questions or in the event that a claim for benefits is denied.
Source: SSA.gov, “If You’re Blind Or Have Low Vision – How We Can Help,” accessed on Nov. 12, 2017