Are legally blind pensioners entitled to more money?

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Rob is legally blind and wants to know how this will affect his entitlements.

Q. Rob
How do I go through the process of applying for the legally blind pension and what extra money do I receive to cover my additional costs?

A. You are not necessarily entitled to greater pension payments once you are adjudged to have become legally blind.

However, if you were on a part Age Pension and then became legally blind, you may start to receive the full rate, which could result in significantly greater entitlements depending on your situation.

This is because the Age Pension and Disability Support Pension that is paid to blind people is not subject to the income and assets test unless you are claiming rent assistance.

If a legally blind person wishes to test their eligibility for rent assistance, then their pension rates will be calculated in accordance with income and assets tests. In this situation, the amount payable under the normal income and assets tests and rent assistance is compared to the means test free rate and the higher amount is paid.

Navigating the Centrelink system with a significant vision impairment can be difficult, so Vision Australia provides important resources, which can help you with your claim.

Under Australian Social Security legislation, ‘legally blind’ is having ‘corrected’ acuity (clarity) of no better than 6/60 and/or a vision field of no more than 10 degrees.

To be assessed as legally blind, you must provide Centrelink with a report from an ophthalmologist measured using the Snellen scale that states:

  • you have total loss of sight
  • your corrected visual acuity. The best vision you can achieve with glasses or contact lenses, measured using the Snellen scale, is less than 6/60 in both eyes; or
  • you have visual field deficits. If you have a visual field deficit, your vision will be limited in certain directions. For example, you may have some vision around the sides but be unable to see straight ahead.

Do you have poor vision that may qualify you to be considered legally blind? Did you know that blind pensioners were not means tested for the pension?

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Written by Ben


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