If your child experiences vision loss, your family may be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly benefits for people of all ages who have serious disabilities. Many forms of vision loss will qualify for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, it can be tricky for children to financially qualify for benefits.
Technical Eligibility for Disability Benefits
Children are only eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI benefits. These are awarded to the most financially needy families in the US. This means that if you or your spouse earns a good living, your child will not be eligible for assistance. The larger your family is, the higher your income limits will be.
For example, a single parent with one child will only be able to make $38,000 per year while still qualifying for disability benefits. On the other hand, a married couple with three children would be eligible for SSI while making more than $55,000 per year. The SSA has a chart on its website where you can review your family’s specific income limits.
Income limits are the top reason why children with vision loss will not qualify for disability benefits. The good news is that once your child turns 18, your income will no longer count against her SSI income limits, even if your child still lives at home.
Medical Eligibility with Vision Loss
The SSA uses its own manual of medical criteria, known colloquially as the Blue Book, when evaluating a childhood SSI claim. If your child matches a listing outlined in the Blue Book, he or she should be approved for benefits. There are three listings for vision loss for children.
The first listing is straightforward—if your child’s vision is worse than 20/200, or if your child is unable to take a vision test but has a condition that makes it likely her vision is worse than 20/200, he or she will qualify. The other listings are highly complicated and will require your child’s optometrist to perform vision tests outlined in the Blue Book, but children with tunnel vision or blurry vision also qualify if their vision loss is severe enough to impact their activities of daily living, like playing with other children or feeding themselves.
Another important note is that the SSA wants to see that your child’s vision loss is in her “best” eye and despite corrective lenses—so this means your child still needs to have severe vision loss with glasses on, and children with blindness in only one eye will not qualify. The Blue Book listing is available online for your review.
Starting Your Application
If you’re applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a child, you’ll need to do so in person at your closest Social Security office. There are more than 1,300 SSA offices located across the country. To make an appointment to apply in person, call the SSA toll free at 1-800-772-1213. It should take three to five months to hear back from the SSA regarding your child’s claim. Once approved, you can spend your benefits on medical costs, childcare, bills, and any other daily living needs.
Credit Eric Minghella a publication from Disability Benefits Help