This article discusses amputation and Social Security Disability Benefits. Read on for information on how SSA will evaluate your claim for disability.
Amputations can happen for a variety of reasons. The main causes are disease, trauma and surgery. Some of the diseases that can necessitate an amputation are peripheral vascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, bone infection and diabetes. Diabetics can experience poor circulation in their feet which can result in skin ulcers. Left unchecked, these skin ulcers can result in amputations (Via Johns Hopkins).
Traumatic amputations can sometimes be reattached, but often a well fitted prosthetic limb would perform better than an reattached limb. Bleeding, shock and infections are frequent complications of traumatic amputations. Via MedLine Plus .
My clients describe residual limb pain, a feeling of loss and depression. Waking in the middle of the to scratch a limb that is no longer there can be disturbing to say the least. Amputees can also experience phantom limb pain. “Although the limb is no longer there, the nerve endings at the site of the amputation continue to send pain signals to the brain that make the brain think the limb is still there. Sometimes, the brain memory of pain is retained and is interpreted as pain, regardless of signals from injured nerves.” Via WedMD. Pain from a phantom limb usually decreases over time, but if it is present longer than 6 months, the prognosis is poor.
Are amputees disabled according to SSA?
Simply being an amputee does not make you eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits any more than a diagnosis of “cancer” does. The real question is how does your amputation affect you? Luckily, there have been advancements in prosthetic technology. In some instances, a artificial limb can allow a person to have a amazing physical advantage over others. Other times, an amputee may never fully adjust to using prosthesis to walk or hold objects.
If you have lost a upper limb or lower extremity, this can definitely affect your ability to work and perform activities of daily living. If you have lost two limbs you will be even more affected and have a longer period of adjustment.
The Social Security Administration evaluates amputation under 1.05 Amputation due to any cause . This listing requires:
The amputation of both hands
OR one or both lower extremities above the ankle (tarsal) with stump complications resulting in inability to use a prosthetic to ambulate effectively
OR one hand and one lower extremity resulting in the inability to ambulate effectively
OR hemipelvectomy or hip disarticulation.
Notice that the above listing requires the “inability to ambulate effectively” even with the use of a prosthetic device. “Inability to ambulate effectively” means an extreme limitation in your ability to walk. But what is extreme? Are you unable to walk without a cane, walker or crutches even with your prosthetic? If so, you may be extremely limited in your ability to walk. Prosthetics are helpful to most patients, but they do not work for everyone. Phantom limb pain and stump complications may eliminate your ability to use a prosthetic.
If you have suffered an amputation of a limb or your digits, do not worry about meeting the above listing. Listing are difficult to meet. You could also be found disabled based on the Medical Vocational Guidelines if your amputation limits you to sedentary work. In addition, if you have other impairments (that might have caused you to have an amputation), SSA can look at the combination of your impairments to find you disabled.
You should apply for Social Security Disability benefits for your amputation as soon as possible. Even if, after amputee rehabilitation, you recover your pre-amputation agility, you will need time to acclimate. You do not know how long it will take you to recover. Delay may cause you to lose disability benefits!
The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in Raleigh, NC and surrounding areas. We do not get paid unless you win and we offer free case evaluations, (919) 615-3095!