Do you have to suffer from blindness to receive SSI?

You may be unable to earn a living due to a disability. Like many people in your situation, you might want to apply for Supplemental Security Income. While receiving SSI benefits could help you and your loved ones, you must meet eligibility requirements first.

Social Security determines whether you qualify for SSI. Such qualifications include whether you suffer from blindness. The Social Security website explains how this works and whether applicants must be blind in order to qualify.

Determining blindness

Doctors measure vision by central visual acuity. A person with normal vision possesses 20/20 vision. According to Social Security, your vision must be 20/200 or less. This can apply to both or just one of your eyes and if you use a correcting lens like eyeglasses. Also, if you have one eye with better vision, the widest diameter of the visual field cannot subtend an angle any more than 20 degrees.

Alternatives to blindness

Your vision may be poor, but it might not qualify as blindness. Still, your poor sight and/or any disability you have may still impede your ability to work. Fortunately, Social Security will provide SSI to adults who have a sufficient disability. It can be a physical or mental disability, which includes emotional or learning disorders. This disability must include the following:

  • Has an expectation of leading to your death
  • Makes you unable to do substantial gainful activity
  • Has or will last continuously for at least 12 months

Social Security does not limit SSI to adults. Children, as defined as those under 18 years old, may receive SSI if they are blind or if they are not blind but have a disability. Social Security has similar disability guidelines for children, with the added provision that the disability results in marked and severe limitations in functionality.