Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of central vision loss in older Americans. Currently, an estimated 11 million people in the U.S. are affected. This is more than those affect by cataracts and glaucoma combined.
February is AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month, a time to share information about this disease and help understand its impact on the lives of those who suffer from it.
While many with macular degeneration can function normally, those who are severely affected by the disease in both eyes may be unable to work. These individuals may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is a diseased marked by the malfunction of cells in the eye that are responsible for sensing light. The retina is the thin layer of cells located at the back of the eye. When light is perceived through the pupil of the eye, it is sent to the retina, which then transmits signals to the brain to be interpreted. Macular degeneration occurs when the central part of your retina is damaged.
Some of the symptoms of AMD include blurry or hazy central vision (what you see in front of you), decreases in clarity of fine detail, difficulty seeing in low light, and changes in how you perceive colors.
There are two forms of the disease. Dry age-related macular degeneration develops gradually. Approximately 80 percent of patients suffer from this form of the disease. Wet AMD is a more acute form of the disease found in about 20 percent of patients that usually begins as dry AMD.
Smoking, high blood pressure, race, obesity and a family history of the disease are all factors that can increase your risk of having age-related macular degeneration.
The effects of advanced AMD can’t be reversed, but there are treatments that can stop the disease from progressing.
Age-related Macular Degeneration and Social Security Benefits
Social Security disability benefits aren’t granted based only on a macular degeneration diagnosis but on how much the disease’s progression is limiting your ability to work.
AMD is not specifically cited in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book (the guide on how various conditions are judged in determining disability). However, the book does offer guidelines regarding general loss of vision and visual acuity which would apply to those suffering from macular degeneration.
According to the guidelines, an AMD patient can generally qualify for disability benefits if:
- Visual acuity in better eye is 20/200 or worse while wearing corrective lenses
- Visual efficiency in better eye is 20% or less while wearing corrective lenses
If your macular degeneration disability claim was denied, contact Social Security lawyer M. Stanley Whitehead today for assistance in appealing the denial and getting the benefits you need.