August 1, 2011

Indianapolis Social Security Disability Benefits Due to Amputation

Indiana disability claimants with an amputation filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits may be surprised to learn that winning your disability claim based on amputation may not always be easy.  Amputation is defined as the complete severance of an individual’s extremety such as a hand, foot, arm or leg.  Amputation can be due to a medical removal, an injury, or some other form of trauma.

Symptoms associated with having an amputated limb vary depending on which body part(s) has been amputated. Amputations of the feet or legs typically affect a person’s ability to walk, bend, climb stairs, and ability to move around. Amputations involving hands and arms typically affect a person’s ability to push, pull, or perform fine motor functions. Although activities for an amputee may be impossible or very difficult, many individuals experience pain around the area of the amputated limb.  Some common medical reasons for amputation may include:

  • Diabetes
  • Gangrene
  • Severe Frostbite
  • Hardened or Embolism of the arteries
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Buerger’s disease

How does an amputee qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?  As stated above, just being an amputee does not automatically qualify an individual for disability benefits.  As all qualifying disabilities or conditions, in order to qualify for disability benefits for an amputated limb or extremity, an Indiana disability claimant must show that the amputation causes the person to be unable to perform functions that are important in the work place such as lifting, bending, walking, grasping, pushing, and pulling. The difficulty in showing this varies depending on which limbs have been amputated and the type of work (heavy, moderate, light, sedentary) that you have done before or could be expected to perform based on your age, education level and experience.

Specifically, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines the criteria for an individual to qualify for disability benefits because of an amputation in their “Listing of Impairments.”  Amputation is found in Section 1.05 of the “Listing of Impairments”. This listing makes clear that it includes amputations due to any cause. The criteria clearly states that an individual will meet the listing outright if he/she meets one of the following conditions:

  1. Loss of both hands.
  2. Have lost either lower limb above the ankle (tarsal region) AND have complications that medically prevent you from using a prosthetic device to help you walk and effectively ambulate.
  3. Loss of one hand and one lower limb above the ankle with inability to use a prosthetic device.
  4. Loss of an entire leg at the hip or pelvic region.

Although, if you do not meet the above criteria, it does not automatically disqualify an individual from winning their SSDI or SSI claim.   Typically, the SSA will take into account how your amputation affects your ability to perform daily tasks. It is important that your medical documentation demonstrates that you can not effectively use a prosthetic device and why. Having doctor’s reports that include any and all restrictions on an individuals daily activities due to the amputation can help in supporting the individuals disability claim.

Lastly, as with other disabling conditions, the effects of the amputation must be expected to last at least one year in order for you to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In most cases with amputations, this does not present a problem. The exception to this is cases where you may be expected to be able to effectively use a prosthetic device within a year.

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