Q. I am 43 and have secondary glaucoma and traumatic cataracts with very low eyesight. It is very hard to get any help from the Social Security office.


A. You do not describe the difficulty you are experiencing, but the following general information about disability benefits may be helpful.

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Supplementary Security Income (SSI) can be paid to otherwise eligible individuals who are blind or whose eyesight meets the strict criteria of the Social Security Act’s definition of blindness. Your own ophthalmologist should be familiar with the criteria. If the medical evidence submitted by your ophthalmologist supports your application, disability benefits will be awarded if you also meet non-medical criteria.

Wage-related Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be paid to an individual your age who has at least five and a half years of work in Social Security covered employment. Five of the years of Social Security employment must have occurred in the ten years ending when the disability began.

Supplementary Security Income for a disabled or blind individual is not based on previous earnings. It depends on income and resources. Ask your local Social Security office for additional information about SSI. Fact sheets on SSI or disability and blindness also can be found on Social Security Administration’s web site: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/ssi.htm.