When children and adults apply for disability benefits and claim that a visual impairment has limited their ability to function, the US Social Security Administration (SSA) is required to determine their eligibility. To ensure that these determinations are made fairly and consistently, SSA has developed criteria for eligibility and a process for assessing each claimant against the criteria. This text examines SSA's methods of determining disability for people with visual impairments, recommends changes that could be made now to improve the process and the outcomes, and identifies research needed to develop improved methods for the future. The report assesses tests of visual function, including visual acuity and visual fields whether visual impairments could be measured directly through visual task performance or other means of assessing disability. These other means include job analysis databases, which include information on the importance of vision to job tasks or skills, and measures of health-related quality of life, which take a person-centered approach to assessing visual function testing of infants and children, which differs in important ways from standard adult tests.
Committee on Disability Determination for Individuals with Visual Impairments; Peter Lennie and Susan B. Van Hemel, Editors, National Research Council