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Amputation and SSA Disability Benefits

Can I get SSDI or SSI for the loss of a limb?

An amputation or the loss of a limb can occur when a body part has to be removed because of severe infection or is otherwise threatening your life. Amputation is considered a last resort by surgeons but may be necessary due to severe trauma (which is the most common reason for amputation for claimants under the age of 50), infection, cancer, tumors or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Winning SSDI or SSI for amputation or missing limbs

The Social Security Administration will determine whether or not you are disabled due to your amputation or missing limb by first determining whether your condition meets or exceeds a listing in their SSA Listing of Impairments. This list, which is also called the SSA Blue Book, outlines the symptoms and conditions the SSA believes are automatically disabling.

If your condition does not meet a listing they will determine if your amputated limb causes you to be unable to perform functions that are important for employment such as lifting, bending, walking, grasping, pushing, and pulling. Obviously, the ability to perform work will depend on what type of work you have performed in the past (heavy, moderate, light, sedentary) and what type of work you could be retrained to perform given your age, education level and experience. This evaluation process is done through what the SSA calls a medical vocational allowance.

Meeting a Listing on the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book for amputation or missing limb

There is a listing for amputation in the SSA Listing of Impairments. Claimants can evaluate their condition under 1.00 Musculoskeletal System, Section 1.05 Amputation due to any cause.

According to the SSA, to meet this listing a claimant must have either both of their hands amputated or “one or both lowe extremities at or above the tarsal region, with stump complications resulting in medical inability to use a prosthetic device to ambulate effectively or amputation of one hand and one lower extremity at or above the tarsal region, with the inability to ambulate effectively or the loss of the entire leg at the hip or pelvic region.”

Claimants whose condition does not meet or exceed this listing may still qualify for SSDI or SSI but they will have to prove, through a medical vocational allowance, that they do not have the ability to work.

Winning SSDI or SSI through a medical vocational allowance

Through a medical vocational allowance the SSA will determine whether you have the residual capacity to work. Claimants who have worked heavy labor their entire lives and who have limited education will have the greatest chance of proving that they would have difficulty retraining for new work.

For instance, a 60 year old man who has done construction work for 30 years and who losses their leg will have a greater chance of proving that they could not retrain for a sedentary desk job than a 25 year old man with a college education.

Keep in mind, the effects and limitations of your amputation must also be expected to last for at least one year. If the SSA believes that you would be able to effectively use a prosthetic within a year and return to your current or previous work you may be denied benefits