Amputations and Social Security Disability
Amputation is defined as the loss of one of the body's extremities: the arms, legs, hands, or feet. Amputations are typically the result of medical operations, injuries, and other traumatic incidents. In medicine, amputations are performed when a limb has become useless or to prevent the spread of a disease to other body parts. Some conditions for which doctors perform amputations include frostbite, diabetes, gangrene, and Raynaud's disease. Amputations of the legs and feet typically affect a person's ability to walk, climb stairs, bend over, and move around in general. Amputations of the hands and arms make it difficult or impossible for a person to push, pull, and perform fine motor functions. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers the complete severance of a hand, foot, arm, or leg an amputation for disability purposes. If an amputation renders you unable to work, you may be able to obtain Social Security disability benefits. However, just because you've had an amputation doesn't mean you automatically qualify for benefits. You must prove to the SSA that your condition makes you unable to perform various functions that are important in the workplace, such as bending, walking, lifting, pushing, pulling, and grasping. To meet the SSA's listing for amputations, you must have one of the following: Amputation of both hands; Amputation of one or both lower extremities at or above the ankle, with stump complications that make you unable to use a prosthetic device to walk; Amputation of one hand and one lower extremity at or above the ankle, with the inability to walk effectively; Hemipelvectomy or hip disarculation. According to the SSA, the inability to walk effectively is defined as needing both hands to use a walker, crutches, or canes to get around, or needing help to get to work or use public transportation. If a prosthetic device, such as an artificial leg, enables you to walk and perform daily activities, you would not qualify for disability benefits. Furthermore, if you have a prosthetic device and use one cane, you would not qualify for disability benefits because you only need to use one hand to walk. If you do not meet the SSA's amputation listing criteria, it doesn't necessarily mean that you wouldn't qualify for disability benefits. You might qualify for disability benefits if your amputation has reduced your functional capacity to the point that there are no longer any jobs you can perform, considering your age, educational background, and past work experience. In order to qualify you for disability benefits, your medical records must document how your amputation affects your ability to walk, bend, squat, and rise, as well as perform other daily tasks. Your doctor should also address whether your condition is likely to improve or stay the same. Furthermore, your medical records must demonstrate why you can't effectively use a prosthetic device. Win Your Amputation Disability Case with Our Help Even if you meet the SSA's amputation listing, it's still a good idea to have a Social Security disability attorney review your claim. To set up a free consultation with Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk, please call 800.883.7043 (or 404.250.7000) or fill out our online contact form.