Amputation is the loss of an arm, hand, leg or foot, which can occur as a result of a medical complication, traumatic accident, work accident or incident related to military service.
Because this type of loss could have a significant impact on an individual's ability to maintain work, amputees may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if they meet certain criteria.
However, the application process for disability benefits can be complicated and requires detailed documentation of your amputation and its effects on your life. A knowledgeable Phoenix Social Security Disability attorney at Dayes Law Firm PC can assist you in filing a claim or appealing a denial for Social Security Disability benefits. Schedule a free case consultation today.
Meeting the Blue Book Listing for Amputation
One way to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is by meeting the amputation listing requirements in Social Security Administration's (SSA) Blue Book Listing of Impairments. To qualify on this basis, your amputation must meet one of the criterion below.
However, it is important to note that although amputation can be caused by a variety of circumstances, the SSA does not consider the cause of the amputation when determining eligibility.
If both of your hands have been amputated, you are considered presumptively disabled. The SSA recognizes that most jobs require you to have two functioning hands, so amputation of both hands can automatically qualify you for benefits if you also meet the non-medical eligibility criteria.
One or Both Lower Extremities
If you have an amputation of one or both lower extremities at or above the ankle, you may be eligible for disability benefits if you are unable to use a prosthetic device or ambulate effectively for at least a year.
The SSA considers an inability to ambulate as an extreme limitation in your ability to walk, which interferes with your ability to begin, sustain or complete activities. This means the individual cannot:
- Sustain a reasonable walking pace over a sufficient distance required for daily living
- Travel to or from school or work without help
- Walk without the use of a walker or two crutches or canes
- Walk at a reasonable pace across uneven surfaces
- Use public transportation
- Climb a few steps at a reasonable pace without help from a hand rail
One Hand and One Lower Extremity
Individuals with one hand and a lower extremity amputation at or above the ankle may also be eligible for disability benefits if they are unable to ambulate effectively, as outlined above.
Many job tasks cannot be performed if you no longer have use of a hand and a lower extremity. If you are unable to move around without using both hands to work a cane, crutches or walker or if you require companion assistance, you may meet this qualification.
Hemipelvectomy or Hip Disarticulation
If the claimant's entire leg has been amputated at or through the pelvis, he or she may also be eligible for benefits. This type of condition can drastically alter a claimant's ability to walk without assistance and to perform job-related tasks.
What to Do if You Do Not Meet the Listing Requirements
If you do not meet the Blue Book listing, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if you can show that your amputation makes it impossible for you to work.
The SSA will consider a number of factors when determining if your amputation prevents you from working, including your age, education, job skills and employment history.
Based on this information, the SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (RFC), which identifies the type of work you can still perform despite your amputation and doctors' restrictions. If the SSA concludes that you cannot perform any type of work or learn a new skill, you will likely be approved for disability benefits.
To achieve the most accurate RFC, it is important that you develop your record and provide accurate and thorough medical records that indicate the true extent the amputation has on your ability to perform basic activities.
Get Help with Your Disability Application
Although it can be a straight-forward process to qualify for disability benefits if you meet the Blue Book listing, the Social Security Disability application process is complex and difficult to navigate on your own.
Fortunately, you have the option of hiring an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer who can guide you every step of the way. Your lawyer can review your medical records and help gather evidence to support your claim. He or she can also provide guidance on how you can help your claim.
Contact our disability benefits lawyers today to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer. We work on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid unless you win your claim.