Amputation and Applying for Disability: What You Need to Know

Amputation Disability Application Process

One would think that an amputation of any part of the body would automatically qualify a person for disability benefits. However, this is not the case. Amputation, while extreme and tragic, does not always result in a person being unable to work, which is the core requirement of receiving disability payments.

Automatic Disability From Amputation

The SSA considers only five amputation situations to qualify for immediate disability benefits. They are:

  • The amputation of both hands.
  • The amputation of one or both legs above the ankle. Additionally, complications from the remaining stump must not allow for the use of prosthetics to regain mobility and normal use.
  • The amputation of one leg above the ankle in conjunction with the amputation of one hand. Again, mobility must be significantly impaired.
  • The amputation of one leg up to and including the hip.
  • The amputation of the pelvis.

All other amputations must be approved for disability on an individual basis. A person must be able to prove that the amputation has resulted in a legitimate inability to work for consideration of the claim.

Obviously, there are many types of amputations that do not meet the automatic qualification criteria but still severely restrict a person’s ability to work. For example, the amputation of one’s dominant hand would make normal work exceedingly difficult, and in some cases, impossible. In these cases, the SSA establishes what they call a residual functional capacity, or RFC, in order to determine a person’s remaining work ability and eligibility for benefits.

Applying for Disability When You Don’t Automatically Qualify

It’s encouraging to know that the SSA does not consider the cause of amputation when determining eligibility for benefits. It doesn’t matter if you lost the limb as a result of a work injury, disease, or personal accident; if your amputation prevents you from working, then you may qualify.

In order to begin a claim for disability, you must fill out the standard application from the SSA. Along with your application, you must sign a release that allows your doctors to release your personal medical information to the SSA for evaluation.

Once the SSA has all of your information, they will evaluate your RFC by considering the extent of your injury and any resulting limitations your doctor may have assessed. Using this information, they’ll assess whether you may be able to work in certain capacities in light of your restrictions, experience and education.

If the SSA determines that there is no capacity in which you would be able to work, they’ll most likely approve your claim. It’s important that you submit all relevant information and fill out all of the proper paperwork for the best chance of having your claim approved. Due to the complex nature of the entire process, it’s best to obtain the help of a qualified, knowledgeable attorney.