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Taking Care of Mom and Dad: Disability Benefits for the Blind

There are special rules for people who are blind or have poor vision. Social Security considers a person to be legally blind under its rules if he or she cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in the better eye, or if the visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. Many people who meet the legal definition of blindness still have some sight, and may be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog.

If you have a parent who does not meet the legal definition of blindness, he or she may still qualify for disability benefits if his or her vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent him or her from working. If this parent is already retired, it's a different case.

There are a number of special rules for people who are blind that recognize the severe impact of blindness on a person's ability to work. For example, the monthly earnings limit for people who are blind is generally higher than the $780 limit that applies to non-blind disabled workers. This amount changes each year. More information is provided in a booklet offered by the Social Security agency, titled If You Are Blind or Have Low Vision: How We Can Help. This is available on-line or by calling the agency.

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