Applying for Disability after an Amputation
Qualifying for Social Security Disability for Amputation
You may be found disabled automatically if your amputation meets Social Security's listing for amputations. You may be thinking that any form of amputation would qualify you but that’s not necessarily true. There are only certain types of amputations that will automatically qualify you. Below is a list of automatic approval for Social Security Disability benefits:
Amputation of both hands
Amputation of one or both legs at or above the ankle IF you are not be able to walk effectively. This means you have stump complications that don't allow you to use a prosthetic device effectively and/or you need to use both your hands to handle a walker, two canes or two crutches, or a wheelchair.
Amputation of one hand and one leg at or above the ankle.
Amputation of one leg up to the hip, or
Other Amputations That Can Cause Significant Issues Working
There are obviously many types of amputations that do not fit social security’s listing of amputations listed above. If you have an amputation that prevents you from working, such as an amputation of your dominant hand, you may still be eligible for disability benefits. You must show that your amputation causes significant limitations with your ability to function in work related activities. For example, if your right dominant hand has been amputated and you can no longer do simple activities such as bathing yourself, dressing yourself, even making your own meals, you may qualify for benefits. Social Security will assess your “residual functional capacity,” or “RFC.” Its best to have your doctor fill out an RFC form.
If you are ambulating with a prosthetic leg, Social Security will look at whether or not you can walk effectively on an artificial leg and whether you are capable of a sedentary job AKA sit down job. If you have lower limb amputation, you may also experience difficulty walking on certain surfaces, as well restrictions with crawling, kneeling, climbing, bending, and activities that require balance. For upper limb amputations, Social Security will look at your ability to grasp items, fine motor movements, fine manipulation, handing fingering, feeling, typing and writing abilities, and your ability to lift objects.
Your RFC assessment is then used by Social Security to determine what kind of work you may still be capable of doing despite the limitations from your amputation. If Social Security finds that you are capable of performing any kind of job even if youve never done that job before, SSA can deny your claim. But if Social Security determines that the symptoms associated with your amputation are extremely limiting and there is no job you can perform on a consistent basis, you may be awarded benefits.
Presumptive Disability with Certain Kinds of Amputations (SSI only)
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two different disability programs that provide payments to disabled individuals: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Under the SSI program, people who are disabled and have very little or no income/resources receive monthly disability payments so they are able to maintain certain necessities. Keep in mind that SSI is a needs based program.
If you are applying for SSI and you have two limbs amputated or one leg amputated at the hip, you will be approved for “presumptive“ disability right when you apply at the Social Security office. An SSA representative can approve you for 6 months worth of presumptive disability checks based on their determination that you are either missing two limbs or a leg from the hip down. However, even if you qualify for presumptive disability, you still will have to be found eligible to continue receiving SSI according to the eligibility rules above. This is because SSI looks at your financial need, so even if you are medically disabled, if you are considered to be over resourced, you may not meet the financial requirements of SSI.
Its always advised to speak with an experienced attorney to determine if you qualify. Please feel free to reach out to us at 210-885-3408.