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If I am blind or have vision issues, can I get SSD benefits?

Residents of New Jersey who are blind or have vision issues might be able to get Social Security disability. For those who are blind, there are two separate programs that can help. They are the Social Security Disability Insurance program and Supplemental Security Income. The SSA will use the same medical rules for each to determine if the person is blind.

For people who have vision issues that cannot be corrected better than 20/200 in the better eye or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the better eye and the problem has lasted or will last for 12 months, they will be considered blind. Even if the person is not blind, there is a chance they can receive disability benefits. If the person is seeking SSDI, they must have worked for a sufficient time where Social Security taxes were paid. If it is SSI due to blindness they are seeking, they did not need to have worked, but their income and resources must be below a certain level.

People who are blind and worked can get credits toward Social Security at any juncture during the time they worked. If the person became blind and worked in the past, the credits can be used to qualify for benefits even if there was not enough credits at the time of blindness. A parent's benefits or a spouse's benefits can also be used to help the blind person reach the required number of credits. With SSI, it is a program that hinges on need. For people seeking SSI, they do not have to have worked to get them.

There are also "work incentives." These individuals can keep getting their benefits while they work, provided their income is below a certain level. For those getting SSD benefits while blind, the maximum amount is $1,950 each month. The amount changes annually. For those who are self-employed, the net profit is the key and it must average $1,950 per month or less in 2017. People age 55 and older will have different rules when it comes to working. If the amount goes beyond the maximum, the benefits will be suspended, not stopped entirely.

For those who are blind, there are several alternatives to get benefits. A legal professional experienced in all aspects of Social Security Disability can help a person who is blind or has low vision move forward with the process to get either SSDI or SSI.

Source: Social Security Administration, "If You're Blind Or Have Low Vision -- How We Can Help," accessed on Dec. 18, 2017

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