Blindness affects a person’s ability to perceive and interact with the visual world, affecting various aspects of employment and individual finances. However, many individuals who are blind and visually impaired have successful careers and contribute meaningfully to the workforce. Several resources, government programs and employment services, such as the Social Security Administration (SSA), are also available to support their financial needs, job search and workplace accommodations.
Applying for benefits
Here are some avenues through which individuals with legal blindness can seek assistance:
- Disability benefits: Individuals with visual impairment who meet the eligibility criteria can apply for:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – financial assistance to those who have worked and have made tax payments
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – assists individuals with limited income and resources.
When individuals apply, legal blindness and visual impairments are evaluated by comparing them to a list of conditions under the “Special Senses and Speech” section of the Social Security Blue Book.
- Special rules for blind individuals: The SSA also has specific rules for individuals who are blind or have low vision. These rules acknowledge the significant impact of visual impairment on a person’s ability to work. For example, there are higher monthly earnings limits for blind individuals compared to nonblind workers with disabilities.
- Work incentives and employment support: The SSA offers various work incentives and employment support to encourage individuals with visual impairment to enter or re-enter the workforce. Programs like the Ticket to Work and self-employment initiatives provide vocational rehabilitation, job training and ongoing support to individuals with disabilities, including visual impairment.
Meanwhile, individuals with visual impairment may find it more difficult to gather relevant medical records, documentation of their visual limitations and any supporting evidence when applying for disability benefits. Consulting with a disability advocate or attorney experienced in Social Security matters can also provide valuable guidance and support throughout the application process.
Assistance with the application process
The SSA provides resources to help individuals with visual impairment navigate the application process:
- Assistance in completing the necessary forms
- Gathering medical documentation
- Understanding the evaluation criteria specific to visual impairment
Their local offices have also trained personnel who can help answer questions. They can guide individuals through the application process and provide information on available resources and programs.
Having a visual impairment does not define a person’s abilities or potential is important. People with visual impairment possess diverse skills and talents that can contribute to the workforce. It is just fitting that they also get the support they need.