By: Carmen Willings
If you are a resident of the United States, there are some financial assistance programs available to persons with disabilities including those with visual impairments and their families.
Social Security Disability Insurance Program
Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are "insured," meaning that you MUST HAVE WORKED LONG ENOUGH IN A JOB WHERE YOU PAID SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES.
If you are legally blind, you can earn credits anytime during your working years. Credits for your work after you become blind can be used to qualify you for benefits if you do not have credits at the time you became blind. Also, it is possible to get benefits based on the earnings of one of your parents or your spouse.
Social Security Administration
According to the Social Security Administration, if you are blind, there are special rules that allow you to receive benefits when you are unable to work. There are currently two programs that provide benefits to people who are blind. Medical and other rules are followed in determining eligibility for the programs. You can get disability benefits if you are "legally blind". The federal government considers you to be "legally blind" if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye, or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less in your better eye. You can also be eligible for disability benefits even if you are not legally blind if your vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes):
Anyone whose field of vision falls at or below 20 degrees, who wears corrective glasses but whose vision is 20/200 or less in his best eye, or who has no eyesight at all, meets the legal definition of being blind and is eligible for certain tax deductions. Turbo Tax provides an online resource of eligible deductions.
Grants & Scholarships
Michigan State University has put together an extensive list of grants and scholarships available to individuals with disabilities including those with visual impairments.
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