The Law Office of Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC The Law Office of Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC

Social Security Disability Benefits for Amputees

Losing a limb can be a life-changing event, both physically and mentally. In addition to the emotional and physical challenges, amputees may also face financial difficulties if they’re unable to work. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits for amputees to help alleviate some of the financial burden.

Below, we discuss the eligibility requirements and application process for obtaining disability benefits after amputation surgery.

How Do Amputees Qualify for Disability?

The eligibility requirements for disability claims vary from case to case. Amputees may ask, “Does leg amputation qualify for disability?” or “Can I get disability for missing toes or fingers?”

Fortunately, the answer is yes to these and similar questions. However, to qualify for disability benefits, amputees must first meet the following criteria:

  • They must have undergone a medically documented amputation that now leaves them unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

  • Their impairment caused by the amputation must be expected to last at least 12 months

  • They must meet the SSA’s additional eligibility criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits After Amputation

With the aid of prosthetics and other assistive devices, many individuals who have undergone amputation can still engage in some type of work. The eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits after amputation is contingent upon the condition rendering the individual incapable of earning a consistent income.

Amputees may qualify for benefits by meeting the SSA guidelines below.

Official Impairment Listing

The Social Security Administration categorizes amputations into four groups according to the Blue Book listing 1.20 under Musculoskeletal Disorders. These groups are determined by the specific limb(s) lost and the severity of the injury.

  • The amputation of both arms at any point above the wrists, up to and including the shoulder joint.

  • The amputation of one or both lower limbs at or above the ankle, plus complications that prevent the effective use of a prosthetic device. (This must include a documented medical need for specific assistive devices.)

  • Hemipelvectomy or hip disarticulation. A hemipelvectomy involves the amputation of a portion of the pelvis. A hip disarticulation involves the removal of the ankle, knee, and hip.

  • The amputation of one upper extremity occurring at any level at or above the wrist, and amputation of one lower extremity occurring at or above the ankle. This must also include:

    • A documented medical need for specific assistive devices; OR

    • Evidence of being unable to use the remaining arm to independently start, maintain, and complete work-related tasks that require fine and gross movements.

While certain individuals experience limb loss as a result of accidents, others undergo surgical amputations after complications arising from disease. Typically, this will not impact the listing under which the claimant should apply. For example, if a leg or arm is amputated due to diabetes, it will still fall under section 1.20.

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) & Medical-Vocational Allowance

In some cases, an amputee may not meet the medical criteria to qualify for benefits, but will still be unable to work because of their amputation. In these cases, the SSA may grant a medical-vocational allowance. This takes into account the claimant’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity (RFC).

An RFC assessment measures the claimant’s ability to perform work-related activities despite their physical and mental limitations.

Presumptive Disability

To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, claimants must have a low income and minimal assets. If they have undergone amputation of one leg at the hip, the SSA will grant presumptive disability benefits while they await an SSI determination.

Can You Get Disability for Amputated Toes or Fingers?

Many people wonder if they may qualify for disability for amputated fingers or toes. This is because the Blue Book only covers amputations of extremities. However, any type of amputation that prevents someone from maintaining gainful employment can qualify for benefits.

If a disability doesn’t meet or equal an impairment listing, the SSA will request an RFC assessment. This will help determine a claimant’s ability to perform work tasks despite their condition.

Why Hire an Attorney

Hiring a disability lawyer can greatly improve the chances of filing a successful disability claim. At Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, we understand the complexity of the SSA’s review process and disability benefit criteria.

Our experience enables us to navigate the claims process, assuring an accurate presentation of all necessary medical evidence and documentation. We’re skilled at explaining how losing a limb affects a person’s ability to work and therefore, meets the SSA’s requirements. By working with our law firm, amputees can improve their chances of securing the financial support they need.

Additionally, our representation can relieve the stress associated with applying for Social Security Disability benefits. This allows the claimant to focus on their health and rehabilitation.

Appeals Process

Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC, can assist claimants in filing an appeal if their initial application was denied. This process involves filing a reconsideration request. If the reconsideration is unsuccessful, the next step is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge.

Our Knoxville disability attorneys can provide invaluable support during the appeals process. We assist with gathering additional evidence to strengthen claims and advocate for claimants during hearings.

Contact Drozdowski & Rabin, PLLC

Are you struggling to file for disability benefits after amputation surgery? Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our highly experienced Social Security Disability attorneys. We will fight to help you get the benefits you deserve.

Are you interested in legal advice on SSD?

Contact us today! Call our team or submit a form.