About 30-40 million people are visually impaired worldwide, with about 50 million people blind in either eye. Loss of vision may result from an injury to the eye or a chronic medical condition. The loss of eyesight can prevent one from being able to perform the duties of their own or any occupation. In such a case, the person may be eligible for long term disability benefits. In order to receive disability benefits, you’ll need to submit disability claims for vision loss to any disability insurance carriers you have a policy with.
In disability cases where somebody has suffered damage to the eye as a result of a traumatic event, it’s usually easy to prove disability. However, if the person isn’t blind but suffers a chronic eye condition, such as deteriorating glaucoma, cataracts, or macular degeneration, the long term disability insurance carrier may deny the disability claim. If your disability claim for vision loss was denied, don’t give up on getting disability benefits. Instead, contact the Ortiz Law Firm for a free consultation. We can help you fight back and win the disability benefits that you rightfully deserve.
Common Causes of Blindness and Severe Visual Impairments
Most people think that blindness and visual impairment are the same, but they are actually different. Blindness is a visual problem characterized by a complete lack of functional vision. On the other hand, visual impairment is a decreased ability to see the degree that causes vision loss problems not fixable by usual means like glasses or contact lenses. People who go blind often battle first with visual impairment, and then the vision loss progresses into blindness. It is possible to get approved for benefits with vision loss, but the loss of visual efficiency must be severe.
There are many injuries and illnesses that cause blindness and severe visual impairments. Some of the common causes of loss of visual acuity and visual efficiency that may qualify for disability benefits include:
- Cataracts: A cataract, if left untreated for a long period, becomes mature enough and hardens into the eye, thus causes blindness. The removal of cataracts at that particular stage also becomes tricky and challenging for the operating physician. Therefore, there is nothing that can be done about the condition. Individuals with advanced cataracts may qualify for disability benefits.
- Glaucoma: Glaucoma blocks the drainage canal of aqueous humor leading to the build-up of the fluid. As the fluid levels continue to rise, there is increased pressure which damages the optic nerve and the blood vessels surrounding the eye.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): AMD starts with lipid and protein accumulation that leads to the formation of solid deposits under the retina. As the disease progresses to a more severe form, there is a growth of excess blood vessels. All of this leads to a loss of central visual acuity.
- Trauma to the surface of the eye, such as from chemical burns or sports injuries: Eye trauma is a common problem seen in primary care and emergency medicine every day. If an eye trauma patient isn’t accurately assessed and managed the trauma can lead to permanent vision loss.
- Uncorrected refractive errors: According to WHO, 153 million people are either blind or visually impaired due to uncorrected refractive errors. Refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, presbyopia, when left untreated, results in low vision.
- Tumors like optic glioma or retinoblastoma: One of the most common symptoms of an eye tumor is hazy eyesight. Slowly by slowly, a part of the visual field will become obscured as the tumor keeps growing.
- Complications from eye surgery: Eye surgery, like any other surgery, is risky. Potential problems may arise while in surgery, which could result in decreased central visual acuity or total vision loss.
- Retro-lentil fibroplasia: This is a complication from premature birth. An unborn baby will develop blood vessels from the center of the retina which branches out towards the edge of the retina. In babies born too early, these blood vessels may stop growing normally. Instead, abnormal blood vessels can start to grow, bleed and cause scar tissue. This can cause the retina to wrinkle and may result in blindness.
- Childhood blindness: The various causes of childhood blindness range from a simple refractive error, glaucoma, cataracts to optic nerve problems. Since children are too young to notice a loss of vision, these conditions often go undetected until later, when it’s too late.
- Diabetes: Diabetes causes diabetic retinopathy, which results in retina destruction. The blood vessels in the retina leak or bleed, creating intense pressure on the eye, which then leads to vision loss.
Understanding Individual and Group Long-term Disability Benefits for Visual Impairments
There are individual and group long-term disability benefit policies. These benefits act as an income replacement since you can no longer work due to your vision loss and are paid by your individual or group long-term disability insurer. Before you file a claim, it helps to know how your insurance company evaluates a disability claim for vision loss.
Unfortunately, insurance companies often deny disability claims for vision impairments. Most individual or group long-term disability claims for vision loss are denied because the disability insurance companies say you lack an objective basis for the limitations assigned by your doctor. They also say there is no causal relationship between your visual problems, limitations, and your ability to work. For those whose claims are approved, the insurer may end up terminating benefits if they determine that there are other occupations you may be able to perform.
Severe vision loss can be devastating not only to you but to your family as well. The last thing you need is your insurance company being skeptical about your disability claim for vision loss and denying your claim while you are unable to work. If your insurer refuses to pay your individual or group long-term disability benefits, you should consider speaking with an attorney or advocate, such as the skilled and experienced disability attorneys at the Ortiz Law Firm. We know our way around the long-term disability cases and ERISA law, and we will come up with a strategy to fight for you and ensure you get the benefits you deserve.
It is important to note that at no point in the process will your insurer be on your side. So you can be sure that they will use any excuse to deny your claim, but you don’t have to worry. With our fierce long-term disability attorney, Nick Ortiz, by your side, you can rest easy knowing your case is in good hands. You can rely on our firm to effectively and aggressively advocate for your disability claim for vision loss.
Social Security Disability Benefits for Eye Disease
If you file for long term disability benefits, the insurance company will most likely require you to file a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. Many people think that in order to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits when you have an eye problem you have to be legally blind, but that is not the case.
You do not have to be completely blind to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for vision loss. If you’re truly having difficulty seeing and processing what you need to see and there’s objective support from your doctor, then you could qualify for Social Security Disability, and you have the right to file a claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The Social Security Administration has a Blue Book listing that applies for visual impairments. It determines if a person is blind or visually impaired to the extent that they’re eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. According to Social Security, a legally blind person is determined if they have one of the following:
- Acuity in the better or corrected eye being 20 over 200 or worse
- A visual field of 20 degrees or less in the better or corrected eye
To win a disability claim for visual loss, you should meet the Blue Book listing and argue that your functional capacity has been severely reduced by vision problems, and as a result that you cannot be a reliable employee.
If you have concrete medical support to back your vision problems, then you have a good chance of getting your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim approved. However, if you lack objective support for your claim, then it is going to be difficult for you to get approval for Social Security Disability benefits.
It is in your best interest to seek professional guidance on how to go about your case. At the Ortiz Law Firm, we can help you in more ways than one. First, our disability lawyers will closely review your disability claim and your medical records. Second, we will use our extensive knowledge, expertise, and contacts to help you figure out how to get your Social Security Disability benefits. If you are thinking of filing a Social Security Disability benefits claim for vision loss, you need a highly experienced team of disability lawyers by your side now more than ever.
Hire an Experienced Disability Attorney
The Ortiz Law Firm has a great passion for disability law. Despite being a small practice, we have handled thousands of long term disability and Social Security Disability claims. We can help you apply for SSDI benefits as well as handle any appeals or lawsuits to recover individual or group long-term insurance benefits. We are more than ready and capable of fighting back, and we won’t stop till we recover your benefits. So go ahead and schedule a free disability case evaluation with us today so that we can analyze your case. You can contact us online or call us at (888) 321-8131.