Benefits For People Who Are Legally Blind

Consumers registered with MCB are eligible for benefits, including:

Table of Contents

Certificate of Blindness (COB)

A person who is registered with MCB or their family member may request a Certificate of Blindness (COB). A COB certifies the person is registered with MCB and may be requested to verify legal blindness for purposes such as applying for tax exemptions. 

To request a COB, complete the MCB Certificate of Blindness Request Form, email BlindnessRegistry@mass.gov, or call 617-626-7415.

A COB expires one year from the Date of Issue.

MCB Identification Card

MCB issues an Identification Card which certifies the holder is legally blind and registered with the agency. Under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 6, Section 135, any person/business who accepts a driver's license for the purpose of identification in granting credit or cashing checks, must accept the MCB Identification Card in the same way.

The MCB Identification Card does NOT meet all the requirements of the REAL ID. On May 7, 2025, U.S. travelers must be REAL ID compliant to board domestic flights and access certain federal facilities.

To request an MCB Identification Card, please complete the MCB Identification Card Request Form

If you have any questions, contact the MCB Blindness Registry: 

The MCB Identification Card expires five years from the Date of Issue.

Pharmacy

The MCB Identification Card is an acceptable form of customer identification to pick up controlled substance prescriptions from a pharmacy.

Further details on identification requirements can be found on pages 67 and 68 of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program's Data Submission Guide for Dispensers.

Income Tax Exemptions and Deductions

People who are legally blind may be entitled to federal and state income tax exemptions and deductions. When filing tax returns, a current Certificate of Blindness or other medical evidence may be required for verification purposes if an exemption or deduction is claimed.

Real Estate Tax Exemption

People who are legally blind may be eligible for a property tax exemption on a home in which they reside and own. As the amount of the exemption varies, contact the local assessor's office for further details. A current Certificate of Blindness or an MCB Identification Card may be submitted for proof of legal blindness. Certificates of Blindness are valid for one year from the Date of Issue. MCB Identification Cards are valid for five years from the Date of Issue. MCB Certificate of Blindness and MCB Identification Card Request Form

Automobile Excise Tax Exemption

People who are legally blind may be eligible for an excise tax exemption on a vehicle registered in his/her name. Application for this exemption should be made through the local tax department. A current Certificate of Blindness or an MCB Identification Card may be submitted for proof of legal blindness.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you’re blind, Social Security has special rules that allow you to receive benefits when you are unable to work. The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) pays benefits to people who are blind under two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Although the medical rules SSA uses to decide whether you are blind are the same for each program, other rules are different. 

Download the SSA publication, If You're Blind or Have Low Vision - How We Can Help: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10052.pdf

Specialized Telephone Equipment Program

People who are legally blind and DeafBlind may be eligible for a specialized telephone through the Massachusetts Equipment Distribution Program (MassEDP). Depending on your income level, the telephone may be free or come at reduced cost. MassEDP provides a landline phone or a wireless device. MassEDP does NOT cover provide the service plan for wireless devices.

For more information regarding MassEDP, including eligibility: 

Download an application: https://www.mass.gov/doc/massedp-application/download

Disability Plates and Placards

People who have been declared legally blind are eligible for disability plates and placards offered by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Disability plates and placards allow people with disabilities to park vehicles in designated handicap parking spaces. They also allow people with disabilities to park at meters without paying fees or penalties. Disability license plates are issued for cars or motorcycles. Placards are displayed on the rear-view mirror and are issued to qualified residents on a temporary or permanent basis.

  • Disability Placard
    • No fee is required for a placard.
    • The person who is disabled is not required to have a vehicle registered in his/her name.
  • Disability Plate
    • Only issued to individual who is primary owner with vehicle registered in his/her name.
    • Registration fees apply. 

For more information:

Download an application: https://www.mass.gov/doc/application-for-disabled-parking/download

A Certificate of Blindness can substitute a healthcare provider's certification for the application.

Note: People who are declared legally blind are required to surrender their Massachusetts driver's license. MCB is legally required to notify the RMV of all cases of legal blindness. 

MBTA Blind Access CharlieCard 

People who are legally blind, as well as an accompanying guide, can ride most MBTA services for free with a Blind Access CharlieCard. These cards are valid for five years. 

People with an MCB Identification Card or Certificate of Blindness, or out-of-state blindness certification, are eligible for a Blind Access CharlieCard.

You can apply for a new, renewal, or replacement Blind Access CharlieCard online or at the CharlieCard Store.

Apply Online: Blind Access CharlieCard | Reduced Fares | MBTA

You can also replace a lost, stolen, or expired Blind Access CharlieCard, by contacting Customer Support:

  • Phone: 617-222-3200, Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • Online: Customer Support | MBTA

The RIDE

The RIDE paratransit service provides door-to-door, shared-ride public transportation to people who can't use the subway, bus, or trolley all or some of the time due to temporary or permanent disability. 

The RIDE is available year-round in 58 cities and towns in the greater Boston area, with similar operating hours to the MBTA - generally from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. Customers schedule their trips on The RIDE one to five days in advance and are given a pick-up window for their ride’s arrival. Travel times are comparable to the same trip taken on fixed-route transit (bus, subway, or trolley) plus an additional 20 minutes. Like other public transit services, The RIDE is a shared service, so you'll travel with other customers going in the same general direction.  

How to Apply for The RIDE: How to Apply for The RIDE | The RIDE | MBTA

MBTA Mobility Center

The Mobility Center, located in Boston at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, is available to anyone looking to explore accessible transit options and other community transport resources.

Find out how the Mobility Center can help you by calling 617-337-2727.

Other Regional Transportation

15 Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) provide fixed route and paratransit service in communities across Massachusetts. Older adults and people with disabilities may qualify for discounted fares when riding the fixed route. Transit authorities are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide paratransit service under certain circumstances. ADA paratransit is an eligibility-based service for people whose disabilities sometimes or always prevent them from using the fixed route and who are traveling in an area served by fixed route service. However, some transit authorities also provide additional paratransit services above and beyond what is federally required. Contact your transit authority for more information. 

Learn about the types of services that transit authorities offer and which municipalities are members of each transit authority: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/public-transportation-in-massachusetts

Many Councils on Aging also offer transportation services to people with disabilities in addition to elders. Find your Council on Aging: https://mcoaonline.com/

Voting Rights

Massachusetts is committed to making voting accessible for all voters. The Secretary of the Commonwealth checks each polling place to make sure they meet state accessibility regulations, in addition to training poll workers on assisting voters with disabilities.

Please contact the Secretary of the Commonwealth if you have suggestions about how to improve accessibility. You can call the Elections Division:

Learn more: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/divisions/elections/voting-information/voters-with-disabilities.htm

Contact for Benefits For People Who Are Legally Blind

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