Is Macular Degeneration a Disability?

Is Macular Degeneration A Disability

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Is macular degeneration a disability?

A common, degenerative eye condition called macular degeneration may make a person disabled. In the US, it is the main reason for visual loss. The primary region of your retina in charge of regulating visual acuity is affected by the condition (i.e., to see fine detail in your direct line of sight). Your capacity to read, drive, watch tv, use a computer, identify people, and carry out typical, daily visual activities may be negatively impacted by macular degeneration. You can have progressively more difficulty doing work-related responsibilities as the disease worsens. 

Disabling Macular Degeneration Symptoms and Signs 

The effects of macular degeneration manifest gradually. The majority of individuals do not notice the changes until later stages when vision loss becomes more evident. The primary sign of macular degeneration is blurry center vision (outer or peripheral vision is unaffected), which cannot be treated with glasses. Additional signs include: 

Gradual deterioration of vision clarity for items 

You no longer see as sharply or clearly as you are used to when the macula is damaged. Your eyesight is sharpest when your macula is healthy; if this crucial area of the retina is harmed in any way, your vision will decline proportionately. 

Distortion of item shapes; straight lines appear wavy or distorted 

The macula is very fragile and sensitive. Because the nerve cells inside the macula are stretched as a consequence of damage, wavy vision may ensue. Just like a folded picture, your vision will be affected by any folds or creases in the macula. 

Impaired sense of depth 

The ability to perceive depth normally requires the cooperation of both eyes. Your ability to judge depth can also be hampered if macular disorders limit your vision. The ability to do fine motor tasks, such as assessing distance while driving a vehicle, may be hampered by a decrease in depth perception. 

Loss of sharp color perception 

Your ability to recognize colors is governed by the macula. Your ability to perceive color will be hampered by damage to the macula caused by degeneration, edema, scar tissue, or pretty much any other process. As macular issues advance, color perception becomes more challenging.  

Scotomas or blind spots: Dark or vacant spots in the line of sight are known as blind spots. 

Small sections of your vision that are in the center, or straight ahead, start to diminish, finally creating a blind spot. The term “scotomas” refers to these blind spots. The words or pictures that are focused on the blind area instantly vanish from view. This alteration in your eyesight might eventually become a disability and can be quite upsetting.

Is Macular Degeneration A Disability

Sensitivity to Light 

Photophobia is the term for excessive sensitivity to light. People who have retinal issues are often more sensitive to light than average. 

Dark adaptation issues

Macular Degeneration patients are very sensitive to changes in illumination. Your macula is prone to stress from sunlight, making it challenging to see clearly when you go from a bright setting to a dark one. 

Phantom vision 

Macular degeneration could be the source of visual hallucinations that have no known origin. According to some scientists, modifications to the macula excite retinal cells, which in turn stimulate the visual cortex. The Charles Bonnet Syndrome is another name for this behavior. The outcome can be really upsetting. 

Eccentric viewing

You start to depend on your side vision to see when the core portion of your eyesight is compromised. In order to observe something of concern, you could turn your head just a little bit to one side. This is known as eccentric fixation.

AMD and Social Security Disability applications 

You can be eligible for Social Security disability payments if macular degeneration has significantly reduced your capacity to work. The SSA does take into account the consequences of macular degeneration on your vision and acuity, even if the diagnosis by itself does not automatically qualify you for disability. In general, you must provide medical documentation proving your macular degeneration is so severe that cannot reasonably be expected to continue working in any profession for which you are competent if you want to be eligible for disability payments. 

Visual impairment and the Blue Book 

Macular degeneration is not included in the SSA’s Blue Book, which provides instructions on how different illnesses should be assessed in order to determine disability. However, the Blue Book contains recommendations for loss of vision and acuity that are relevant to macular degeneration disability claims. The sections that apply are: 

  • Loss of Visual Acuity 2.02 
  • Loss of Visual Efficiency, 2.04 

The SSA will want to observe a test of the better eye with corrective lenses in order to determine visual acuity and effectiveness. If either applies, you will be eligible for Social Security disability payments under the Blue Book listings. 

  • When using the sharpest corrective lens available, your better-seeing eye’s visual acuity is 20/200 or worse. 
  • When using corrective lenses, your better eye’s visual efficiency is 20% or lower. 
  • When using corrective lenses, your better eye’s visual efficiency is 20% or lower.  
  • SSD eligibility for macular degeneration based on employment incapacity 

If the Blue Book entries for macular degeneration don’t apply to you, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits based on how it affects your capacity to carry out routine employment tasks. You’ll need to demonstrate that your condition prevents you from continuing to conduct any sort of employment for which you may theoretically be qualified. Most of the time, the best strategy is to demonstrate how working puts you and others at risk for injury due to your lack of fine vision. 

Whether or not they are connected to your macular degeneration, it is crucial to disclose any medically verifiable conditions you may have on your Social Security disability application. Even if your macular degeneration alone does not make you eligible for disability payments, the combination of your debilitating symptoms is often enough to do so. Those who have macular degeneration often experience the following problems, which you should include in your disability claim: 

  • Hypertension 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Obesity
  • Visual Hallucinations

Inability to Work Due to a Disability from AMD  

Macular degeneration may cause long-term incapacity from work in addition to interfering with your ability to carry out your daily activities. Your insurance provider, nevertheless, could not comprehend the seriousness of your symptoms or how they will affect your ability to work. You may boost your chances of being accepted by describing how and why each of your symptoms prevents you from carrying out your work responsibilities. 

For instance, it could be quite challenging for you to read due to your diminished visual acuity and the fuzzy vision caused by macular degeneration. Regardless of whether a document is on paper or a computer screen, it could take you considerably longer to read it. This may lead to missed deadlines or a hold-up in answering a client’s urgent query. Even worse, if you read with blind spots and empty spaces in your field of view, you can miss a crucial word or words, misinterpreting the content of the text and making errors. 

Due to Macular Degeneration’s blurriness, it might be difficult to identify people’s faces, and your lack of depth perception may lead you to “overshoot” a handshake. An awkward or unpleasant scenario like this might arise during a crucial business meeting. You may be unable to follow a visually demanding presentation at a business meeting or seminar due to the symptoms of macular degeneration. 

Additionally, if you must drive or travel for business, it may be hard for you to do so due to your diminished central vision, poor depth perception, light sensitivity, and distorted object shapes. For instance, Macular Degeneration symptoms might make it difficult to see vehicles, street crossings, and road signs. Furthermore, you risk missing your connecting flight because of your symptoms making it hard to interpret signage at airports. 

As a result, it may be useful to write up a thorough account for the insurance company that details how your particular symptoms keep you from doing your work. Make sure your story addresses each symptom by separating them out in a list. 

The views of your attending physician will also be required by your insurance provider when deciding if your macular degeneration is incapacitating (s). Support from your doctor is crucial. The extent of your issues, any positive examination findings, any objective tests demonstrating your vision deficiencies, their personal observations of you during office visits, and the precise restrictions and limitations that prevent you from working should all be included in your doctor’s reports. 

Your testimony and the endorsement of your physician will go a long way toward supporting your Macular Degeneration long-term disability claim.

Medical Eligibility through an RFC 

You may be able to apply for a medical-vocational allowance using a (RFC) residual functional capacity if you are unable to work but your condition does not match the medical requirements as set out in the Blue Book.

Your disability claim may be significantly impacted if your doctor completes the RFC. The paperwork could possibly be filled out by more than one of your healthcare professionals. If an expert like an ophthalmologist would like to complete one as well, it might provide even more information about your health and how it affects your capacity for work. 

Is Macular Degeneration A Disability

Not all handicapped applicants are qualified to fulfill the requirements and receive benefits under the Blue Book. Your medical issues, symptoms, remedies, potential side effects, restrictions, and limits are all clearly stated in the RFC. This form will go into great depth and assist you with exactly what you can and cannot do. 

The RFC, for instance, will be fairly precise. It can mean you need to change positions every hour, that you can’t stand for more than two hours straight, or that you can’t lift more than five pounds. Your ability to bend, stretch, squat, carry, and reach will be indicated. 

Disability Determination Services (DDS) will be able to assess what sort of job – if any work – you are capable of performing with your medical condition by evaluating that RFC and taking into account your work experience, work responsibilities, age, and educational background. 

The RFC will explain how your vision loss is hurting your capacity to perform in this instance, in the case of people suffering from macular degeneration. It can be a sign that you are unable to handle delicate chores like sewing or jewelry repair. Additionally, it will mention if you have trouble reading and whether you are unable to drive.

Americans with Disabilities Act, Legal Protection For Those with Macular Degeneration 

No matter how severe their visual loss is, patients with macular degeneration may be covered by the ADA from the moment of diagnosis. 

In addition to having a devastating economic and social impact on American society, barriers to work, public transportation, accommodations, services, and telecommunications have hindered well-intentioned initiatives to educate, rehabilitate, and employ people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) seeks to allow society to benefit from the abilities and talents of people with disabilities by removing these obstacles. As a result, all Americans will live fuller, more fruitful lives and will benefit from their greater buying power. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that people with disabilities have access to the same civil rights protections as those granted to people on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It ensures that people with disabilities have access to public facilities, job opportunities, transportation, state and local government programs, and telecommunications. The federal government places a high premium on ensuring that this historic civil rights law is enforced fairly, quickly, and effectively. 

The ADA 

The ADA forbids discrimination against “a qualified person with a handicap” by an employer. With 15 or more workers, including part-timers who worked for 20 or more weeks in the current or previous calendar year, it applies to private businesses, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, and joint labor-management committees. 

Applications, testing, hiring, evaluations, disciplinary actions, training, promotions, medical exams, layoffs/recall, termination, pay, leave, and benefits are all covered by the ADA’s anti-discrimination rules. You may be the victim of unlawful discrimination under the ADA if an employer decides on any of these areas of employment based on the fact that you have macular degeneration. 

The ADA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC receives, examines, and attempts to settle via conciliation any allegation of discrimination that is supported, including securing complete redress for the harmed party. The EEOC has the authority to file a lawsuit or provide the complainant with the “right to sue” letter. 

How can you tell whether the ADA applies to you? You must be a qualifying disabled individual. You should always seek the advice of a lawyer or other trained practitioner who specializes in disability law since each person’s condition and job situation is unique. However, the ADA lays forth the fundamental standards by which all cases are judged. 

According to the ADA, a person has a disability if they meet one of the following criteria: 1) they are physically or mentally impaired, 2) they have a record of that impairment, or 3) they are perceived to have that impairment. Major life activities include things like walking, speaking, breathing, doing manual chores, seeing, hearing, learning, taking care of oneself, and working, things the ordinary person can do with little to no trouble. The impact an impairment has on a person’s life activity determines whether a specific handicap seriously restricts the main life activity. 

Under the ADA, disability is only one factor in the equation. A disabled individual must also meet the requirements for the position. The candidate with a handicap must first fulfill all conditions for the position, including education, work experience, training, skills, licenses, certifications, and any other requirements specific to the position. Basically, he or she must meet all other requirements for the position. Second, the disabled person must be capable of carrying out the essential duties of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation.

What a Disability Lawyer Can Do to Help 

When you hire a disability attorney, they will assist you in compiling the necessary supporting papers and proof. Your lawyer will work to compile all of your medical documents while you are required to supply financial records, information about your personal employment history, and information about your educational background. 

In order to determine whether you fulfill the requirements for disability benefits or what proof is lacking, your lawyer will also evaluate your medical records. If there is any missing evidence, your attorney may assist you in obtaining it, such as test results at the time of your first diagnosis or a statement from your doctor. You greatly increase your chances of getting your claim accepted by hiring a lawyer to handle your case.

Conclusion

Macular degeneration is a disability, it can affect many aspects of your life and your ability to work and do daily tasks. It’s important to know your rights and know the resources available to you to make the most of your situation.  Luckily there are programs that can help.

FAQ’s

If you have macular degeneration, are you eligible for benefits? 

Disability Benefits The additional expenses of managing a chronic illness like macular disease are covered by disability payments. Your eligibility for these benefits depends on your age and whether you satisfy the requirements. 

Can someone with macular degeneration get a blue badge? 

The following benefits are yours if you are listed as severely sight-impaired: the blind person’s personal income tax allowance. Automatic eligibility for a Blue Badge parking permit and other neighborhood parking programs. 

Which eye disorders are taken into account for disability? 

If your vision in your better eye cannot be restored to better than 20/200, we will consider you to be blind. We also count you as blind if your superior eye’s vision field is 20 degrees or smaller for a period of time that has lasted or is anticipated to last at least a year. For SSI benefits, there is no term restriction.

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