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Q

I am blind. I work part time, but it is hard to make ends meet, and I have not found a full-time job. I heard that the blind can get Social Security benefits even if they are working. Is this true?

A

In a perfect world, being blind would not stop you from working. People who are blind or visually impaired are capable of doing most types of work with some accommodation for disability. However, the world is not perfect, and the unemployment rate among the blind is very high. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes that blindness has a severe impact on a person’s ability to earn a living. Therefore, Congress has made special rules that make it easier for those who are blind to hold a job.

You do not have to be completely without vision to qualify for SSDI. The SSA considers you to be legally blind if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • Your corrected vision is less than 20/200 in your better eye
  • You have a visual field of 20 degrees or less in your better eye

There are two types of disability benefits available to the blind: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI for the blind

In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have paid Social Security taxes. The amount of work you must have done will depend on your age. Your blindness must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months, and you must be earning no more than $1,740 per month.

SSI for the blind

If you do not qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI. SSI benefits are based on income. If you are blind, you may deduct certain expenses (Blind Work Expenses) from your earned income, so you may qualify for some SSI benefits even if you earn more than $1,740 a month.

Blind Work Expenses (BWE) may include:

  • Your service animal
  • Food and care of your service animal
  • Attendant care services
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Visual and sensory aids
  • Union dues, work-related licenses, and professional association fees
  • Any work-related equipment
  • Any services that help you do your job, such as translation to Braille
  • Transportation to and from work
  • Any meals eaten while at work
  • Federal, state, and local income taxes
  • Social Security taxes

Do you have more questions? Contact the Philadelphia disability attorneys at Mednick, Mezyk, and Kredo. We’ll help you determine whether you qualify for SSI or SSDI and help you through the application process. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact our office at 888-807-WORK.