CM5537 Determining 'permanently blind', 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes' | Compensation and Support Reference Library, Commission Guidelines

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CM5537 Determining 'permanently blind', 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes'

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REPATRIATION COMMISSION GUIDELINE

CM5537 - Determining 'permanently blind', 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes'

Purpose

The purpose of this Guideline is to provide the Repatriation Commission's view on the criteria that should be used to determine 'no useful sight', 'blinded in both eyes' and 'permanently blind' pending recommended changes to the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986.

Issues

Under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, the determination of blindness is required for both income support and disability compensation purposes. However the terminology used is not the same. 'Permanently blind' is used in some income support related sections, while disability compensation provisions use the terms 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in an eye'. None of these terms is defined in the VEA.

There are two issues arising from this:

  • it is possible to infer from the lack of consistent terminology that 'blindness' for income support purposes must be different in degree from 'blindness' for disability compensation purposes; and
  • within Disability Compensation, there is a lack of consistency in determining 'no useful sight' between state offices.

Commission Decision

In a decision dated 19 December 2003, the Repatriation Commission AGREED to:

  • recommend to the Minister that the VEA be amended to replace the terms 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes' with the term 'permanently blind' and to define 'permanently blind' as a visual impairment rating equal to or greater than 85 points determined by reference to the Guide to the Assessment of Rates of Veterans' Pensions (GARP);
  • adopt a policy, pending the proposed legislative amendment, that the terms 'permanently blind', 'no useful sight' and 'blinded in both eyes' be defined as 'a visual impairment rating equal to or greater than 85 points determined by reference to GARP'; and
  • adopt a policy that, where there are visual field deficits or combinations of deficits to be taken into account, a person may only be found to be permanently blind after assessment by an ophthalmologist.

Effect of this decision

In cases of visual acuity deficits, this Commission Decision means that effectively Disability Compensation and Income Support decisions at all levels will determine to be blind any veteran who has a corrected visual acuity in the better eye of less than or equal to 3/60.

Note that in practice there is no intermediate measure between 6/60 and 3/60 as suggested by Table 8.1.3 in GARP.

In cases of visual field deficits or combinations of deficits, a veteran should be deemed to be blind only if he or she is assessed at 85 impairment points by an ophthalmologist.

Contact

Director

Policy, Eligibility and Research

02 6289 6485

Signed

Neil Johnston

President

Repatriation Commission

23 January 2004

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