How Amputees Can Qualify for Disability Benefits

Amputees face certain challenges when looking for gainful employment. Depending on the amputation type, certain job tasks may not be possible. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has an official rule to determine whether amputees may qualify for disability assistance. This rule’s impairment list makes it easier for amputees to see if their condition may qualify for monthly disability benefits. We’ll review the specific impairment listings for amputation patients in more detail below.

Before we delve into those qualifications, it’s important to understand the SSA doesn’t consider amputation causes while reviewing disability claims. Whether your amputation is work-related, health-related or accidental in nature, the cause won’t affect your ability to receive disability benefits. However, additional health complications caused by your amputation may be considered as qualifying factors. Describe any additional disabling conditions potentially caused by your amputation, including infections, inflammation, and degenerative bone, neoplastic or vascular diseases.

Important: Amputees must also meet all non-medical eligibility requirements to have claims approved for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits. For more information about why your claim might receive a technical denial from the SSA, click here.

Four Categories That May Qualify Amputees for Disability Benefits

To make this rule simpler to understand, the SSA has listed qualifying amputations under four specific categories. These categories define the lost limb type and injury severity which may prevent you from working for 12 continuous months.

Category #1: Amputees Who Lost Both Hands

Amputees who meet all non-medical eligibility criteria and have both hands amputated should receive a medical approval for SSDI. Because most job tasks require two functioning hands, this particular disability is automatically medically approved for monthly disability assistance.

Category #2: One or Both Lower Limbs Just Above The Ankle (With Complications That Effectively Prevent Amputees from Using Prosthetic Devices)

This amputation type’s a bit more complicated than the first one. In order to qualify, you must be effectively unable to use a prosthetic device to walk due to stump-related complications. Any inability to use prosthetics to walk must be expected last for at least 12 months to qualify for SSDI. This includes amputees who cannot walk up a few steps alone or need crutches, canes or a walker to move. If you’re unsure about whether your amputation meets this qualification, talk to your doctor.

Category #3: One Hand Plus One Lower Extremity Above The Ankle That Prevents Ambulation Using A Prosthetic Device

With one hand and one foot amputated, it’s very difficult to complete most routine job tasks without any help whatsoever. The same qualifications listed above regarding independent ambulation also apply to double amputees that are eligible under this rule. If you’re unable to travel without companion assistance due to a dual amputation, you may meet this qualification for SSDI. Amputees who cannot walk one city block on uneven or rough surfaces without getting help from others may also qualify.

Category #4: Hemipelvectomy or Hip Disarticulation (Entire Leg and/or Pelvis On One Side)

While rare, a hemipelvectomy (external or internal) may result from traumatic injuries or cancers (Ewing’s Sarcoma, chondrosarcoma and osteosarcoma). Hemipelvectomies involve either leg and pelvis removal on one side (e.g., “hindquarter amputation”) or just the pelvis on one side. A hip disarticulation involves full lower limb removal through the actual hip joint and requires an extensive physical recovery process. Both amputation conditions may cause phantom limb pain and can significantly reduce amputees’ ability to walk without assistance going forward.

While amputees may easily qualify for disability benefits, just getting through the claims process can be difficult without legal help. You may have better luck speaking with a Social Security attorney or disability advocate in your area before you apply. To see if you may qualify for legal assistance with your claim, click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation today.

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Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.