Night blindness can be a significant visual impairment that interferes with your ability to work. Depending on the severity of your condition, work history, and living situation, you might be eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits.
Night blindness, also known as nyctalopia, is a condition that impairs a person’s ability to see in low light or darkness.
Night blindness can significantly impact your life and activities, making it challenging to navigate in dimly lit environments or at night. It can even jeopardize your employment if, for example, your job can be performed only at night.
If you or your loved one has night blindness, you may wonder whether this condition qualifies for disability benefits. Read on to learn about night blindness disability requirements under different U.S. laws and how to apply for benefits.
Severe night blindness is generally considered a medical disability and, in some circumstances, can make you eligible for benefits. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), any visual impairment may qualify for disability benefits if it prevents you from working by itself or combined with other health problems.
The SSA has specific criteria for determining eligibility for disability benefits for people with visual disorders. To qualify, you must provide substantial evidence that your night blindness meets the criteria in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments (also known as the “Blue Book”).
To evaluate your visual impairment, SSA might request a report of an eye exam that includes measurements of your best-corrected central visual acuity or the extent of your visual fields. They may also ask for documentation of the cause of the vision loss.
If you have night blindness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both of these programs.
SSDI provides benefits to people with disabilities who have worked and paid Social Security taxes. SSI, on the other hand, provides benefits to people with limited income and resources who are at least one of the following:
- people with disabilities
- legally blind people
- older adults
You can apply for both of these programs at the same time. There are three different ways to apply:
- online at the SSA website
- by phone by calling 800-772-1213
- in person at your local Social Security office
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities are protected from discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, and transportation. This means, among other requirements, that your employer must provide you with reasonable accommodations you need to perform your job.
For people with night blindness, this could mean having extra lighting in their office or being scheduled to work only daytime shifts.
To be protected under the ADA, your night blindness might be:
- an “actual” disability, or happening now
- a former disability, for example, when it was corrected surgically
In addition, you’re also protected if an employer takes an action that violates the ADA (for example, refuses to hire or terminates you).
Let’s go over a few questions that people with night blindness frequently ask about their disability.
Is night blindness a disease, disorder, or visual impairment?
Night blindness is a visual impairment, but it’s not a disease or disorder. Rather, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem, for example, untreated myopia (nearsightedness).
What benefits can I claim for having night blindness?
Depending on your work history, financial situation, and the extent of vision loss, you can claim SSI or SSDI benefits for having night blindness.
How much SSI does a person with night blindness get?
The amount of SSI benefits you can receive varies depending on your income, living situation, and other factors. In 2023, the maximum monthly SSI benefit is $914 for an individual and $1,371 for a couple.
Can you work with night blindness?
Your ability to work with night blindness depends on the following:
- the severity of your condition
- the type of job you’re doing
- whether you’re able to perform another type of work
Many people with night blindness may be able to work with reasonable accommodations. However, others may find it challenging to find or maintain employment.
How long does it take to get disability for night blindness?
Disability determination is a lengthy process. It can take several months to a year to obtain a decision on your application. In addition, as many as 2 out of 3 people are denied benefits and have to appeal the decision, sometimes more than once. Hiring a disability lawyer may help increase your odds of approval.
If you are able to work, your employer must comply with the ADA to ensure you don’t have any issues performing your job duties. They also can’t refuse to hire or terminate you because of your disability.
If you have severe night blindness that prevents you from being employed, consider working with a disability advocate who can help navigate the application process efficiently. Remember that each case is unique, and obtaining proper documentation and evidence is crucial for a successful benefits claim.