Can Seniors with Glaucoma Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

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Glaucoma is a progressive eye disease that can damage the optic nerve and potentially cause permanent blindness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Eye glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, with over 3 million people currently suffering from it. It can increase the risk of extensive vision loss since it does not show any obvious symptoms. There are no specific reasons to know what causes glaucoma in eyes. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Glaucoma, but there are treatments that can help prevent complete vision loss. If seniors suffering from this disease are retired or unable to work, they can also file a claim for Social Security disability benefits. It is important however to know what are these social security disability benefits and how does one qualify for them? Let’s take a look! 

What are Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security pays benefits to those who are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or can lead to death. To meet the definition of disability, individuals applying for Social Security Disability Benefits need to have a long employment record. Several programs help people with short-term or partial disabilities, but Social Security strictly adheres to its definition of disability.


The recipients must have worked long enough because they need to have a history of contributing to the Social Security trust fund in the form of Social Security taxes. It is because the funding of SSDI comes from payroll taxes.  

Is Eye Glaucoma a Disability?

Glaucoma is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA) only when seniors meet the medical criteria outlined by the SSA for vision loss. The applicants must prove that their glaucoma is severe enough to prevent them from being able to work for a minimum of 12 months.  

Glaucoma doesn’t have separate criteria in the Blue Book of SSA, which is basically the list of disabilities that decides whether one qualifies for SSD. But there are three other listings related to blindness, under which glaucoma can be listed.  

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits (SSDI), if You Have Glaucoma

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits if You Have Glaucoma?

Although there is no cure for glaucoma, early treatment can significantly slow its progression and the damage it may cause. The criteria that decide whether one qualifies for SSD benefits are as follows: 

  1. In order to be eligible for Social Security disability, the applicant must not be working currently with the expectation of being off from work for at least one year. 

  2. An applicant must qualify under the SSA’s listing of impairments, which includes the following conditions: 
  • If the applicant’s visual acuity (clearness and clarity) in the better eye is less than 20/200. A person could meet listing 2.02.
  • The applicant could also be approved based on listing 2.04. It says that visual efficiency e., a combination of visual acuity and loss of peripheral vision in the better eye must be 20% or less, even after correction such as with lenses or glasses. Listing 2.04 indicates loss of peripheral vision.
  • The applicant has an MD of 22 decibels or more and they are unable to see more than 20 degrees to the right or left of a fixed point. 

However, if your elderly family member is suffering from glaucoma that doesn’t meet any of these criteria, they can still receive SSD benefits. The applicants must prove that they are unable to work any job on a full-time basis due to their vision impairment.  

How to Apply

How to Apply for SSD Benefits?

To begin with, medical history containing information such as the report of eye dominance test, or other diagnoses and treatments is an essential part of the application. It should also contain notes from the doctor stating the severity of glaucoma – inhibiting the applicant’s ability to perform basic tasks. 


Once the records are submitted and reviewed by the SSA, they will take note of the applicant’s limitations, age, education level, and work history. Based on these factors, the SSA will decide whether the applicant qualifies for disability benefits and the benefits they should receive. 

Read More: How to prevent seniors from falling? 

What’s next?

In the case of progressive diseases like glaucoma, often proper treatment can enable a beneficiary sufferer to return to work. Once an applicant starts receiving SSD benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows its beneficiaries to work for 9 months in every period of 60 months without losing their SSD payment privileges. Also known as the trial work period, beneficiaries must keep the SSA informed about their income, their expenses, and detailed information about their employment. If they fail to provide these details to SSA, they can lose benefits.

Key Takeaway

Once a senior applies for Social Security benefits for Glaucoma, the claim approval process can take some time. Therefore, make an appointment at your local SSA branch office, and do not forget to carry your documents with you. To get seniors also checked for vision-related issues, contact the best medical clinic  EliteCare Health Centers located closest to you.

Can Seniors with Glaucoma Receive Social Security Disability Benefits | Infographic

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