Aug 19, 2020

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits with Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is quite common, especially as people get older. Although younger people can sometimes develop macular generation it’s most common in people who are 50 or older and the chances of developing it increase significantly after age 70. Macular degeneration causes vision loss in varying degrees that can make it impossible to work. People with macular degeneration who can’t work because of their vision loss can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits if they expect that they won’t be able to work for at least a year and if they have worked at some point in the past.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits Due to Macular Degeneration

When you file a claim for disability benefits you will need to provide proof of your condition that meets the standards set by the Social Security Administration. All of the illnesses that are considered disabling by the SSA are listed in the Blue Book, which is updated regularly. You can search through the Blue Book online at any time to see if your condition is listed there. Every listing that is in the Blue Book has a set of requirements that you must prove that you meet before you claim for benefits can be approved. Medical documentation like test results or doctor’s notes are required to prove that you meet the criteria in the listing.

If you submit a claim for disability benefits due to macular degeneration you will have to prove that your vision loss meets one of the standards laid out in the Blue Book for vision loss which are:

  • Your visual acuity in your better eye is 20/200 or worse while you are wearing the best corrective lens available
  • Your visual efficiency in your better eye (while wearing the appropriate corrective lenses) is 20% or less

Eye tests and ophthalmologist reports will be necessary to prove your vision loss meets the Blue Book requirements. But what if you don’t meet the standard and yet you still can’t work?

Medical Vocational Allowance

The Social Security Administration offers an exception to people who need disability benefits but can’t meet the listing requirements in the Blue Book. You can ask for a Medical Vocational Allowance exception. To get this you will need to have your eye doctor fill out a Residual Functional Capacity evaluation. This evaluation sheet can be found on the SSA’s website. This evaluation sheet allows your doctor to describe in detail your condition and how it limits your ability to work. When it’s complete submit your claim, your medical documentation, and the RFC evaluation to the SSA. The SSA will look at the RFC evaluation, your age, your skills, and other factors to try and find some type of work that you can do. If they can’t find any work that you can reasonably be expected to do then your claim for benefits can be approved.

Filing A Disability Benefits Claim

Anyone can file a claim through the SSA’s website at any time. If you can’t read the paperwork or need help filling out the claim, you can have someone else like a family member or a friend apply on your behalf. After your initial application is complete, you should hear back from a decision from the SSA within 3 to 5 months.


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