What is legal blindness?
Being legally blind doesn’t mean you have total vision loss or ‘black’ blindness.
You are considered legally blind if you can’t see at six metres with both eyes (wearing your spectacles if required) what someone with normal vision can see at 60 metres, and/or if your vision is less than 20 degrees in diameter in the eye with better vision.
What financial supports can I get?
The “blind pension”
The ‘Blind Pension’ refers to either the Disability Support Pension (Blind) or the Age Pension (Blind).
If you are under 66 years-old and legally blind, you are eligible for the Disability Support Pension (Blind). If you are aged 66 or older and legally blind, you are eligible the Age Pension (Blind). Both pensions are paid at the same amount with no assets or income tests applied (unless you are also claiming rent assistance).
If you already receive the full Disability Support Pension or Age Pension, you won’t receive any additional income from the ’Blind Pension’.
The rules for pensions are complex, and everyone’s circumstances are different. For that reason, we can’t advise whether you qualify, or how much money you’ll receive. You should always seek advice from Centrelink.
How to apply for the ‘Blind Pension’:
- contact Centrelink to apply for the Disability Support Pension (Blind) or the Age Pension (Blind)
- download the Centrelink ‘Request for Ophthalmologist/Optometrist Report’.
- make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or optometrist, and complete the ‘Request for Ophthalmologist/Optometrist Report’. Note that an optometrist will still require supporting documents from an ophthalmologist to complete the application process.
- submit your completed application with the ‘Request for Ophthalmologist/Optometrist Report’ and any other supporting documentation to Centrelink.
- You will receive a letter from Centrelink once your application has been approved. This can take several weeks but payment is backdated to the date the application was lodged with Centrelink.
Public transport subsidies
If you are declared legally blind, you may be eligible for public transport subsidies. This can include discounts for taxis, trains and buses. Contact MDFA on the National Helpline for more information.
Companion card for carers
If you care for someone with legal blindness, you may be eligible for a state and territory Companion Card. The Companion Card allows you to go to venues and activities with the person you are caring for, without having to buy a second ticket. For more information, visit http://www.companioncard.gov.au/cardholders_apply.htm
What other government support can I get?
There are other government programs that can assist you with daily living, if you are legally blind.. This can include home cleaning, gardening, meal delivery, assistance with food preparation and low vision assistive technology.
- if you are under the age of 65, you may be eligible to become a participant of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). For more information, visit https://www.ndis.gov.au/
- if you are aged 65 years or older, you may be eligible for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a Commonwealth Home Care Package. For more information, visit https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/
- state and territory governments provide subsidised aids and equipment programs for people with a disability. However, not all of them provide low vision assistive technology. For more information, visit https://agedcare.health.gov.au/aids-and-equipment
- if you are a veteran, war widow or war widower, you should also contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to enquire if you are eligible for other benefits: https://www.dva.gov.au/
If you require further information or support to better understand your condition, please contact the MDFA Helpline on 1800 111 709