SSR 90-5c

It helps to review previous cases to understand the rules and processes regarding the Social Security’s definition of disabled. In many cases, common sense does not prevail until an attorney gets an opportunity to describe how the rules do not meet the intention.

Adams v. Bowen, 872 F.2d 926 (9th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, _____ U.S. _____, 110 S. Ct. 151 (1989)

The claimant, a 56-year-old diabetic, applied for disability insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), contending that she was unable to work because of impaired vision. Although she did not have 20 quarters of coverage in the 40-quarter period ending with the quarter of alleged disability, she was fully insured and would have met the disability insured status requirements under section 223(c)(1) of the Act and would have been entitled to disability insurance benefits, had she established that she was statutorily blind. Section 216(i)(1)(B) of the Act provides that a person is statutorily blind if he or she has either central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens, or has a limitation in the fields of vision so that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees which is considered as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. The evidence of record showed that the claimant’s visual acuity in each eye was approximately 20/50 and her visual fields were intact. Because of a neurological impairment, however, the claimant had difficulty processing visual information when the environment around her was moving. She would trip and fall when she walked, and she could not see well enough to put a staple in the corner of a piece of paper. A neuropsychologist stated that, because of her condition, the claimant was in many ways worse off than someone who was blind. Moreover, three ophthalmologic specialists, including the claimant’s attending physician, characterized her as being “functionally blind.” The Secretary, nonetheless, denied the claimant’s application because the evidence showed that she did not meet the statutory definition of blindness.

via SSR 90-5c.

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