Amputation and Social Security Disability

Amputation and Social Security Disability Benefits
By Kimberly BishopDecember 28, 2013

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 diabetesDiabetics 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.

In severe cases, pelvic amputation (which would involve the entire leg), or the amputation of two limbs can be caused by traumatic accidents.

My clients describe residual limb pain, a feeling of loss and depression. Waking in the middle of the night 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.

Social Security Disability Benefits

The first step to attaining disability benefits for amputees is to apply for benefits at your local Social Security office or online. When you apply for benefits, you must meet the eligibility criteria for SSA to accept your claim.

There are two types of benefits that SSA (generally) offers:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life. You must be found disabled before your date last insured (DLI) to be found eligible for SSDI. Your DLI is calculated by counting your “quarters of coverage” from your earnings record. You must have 20 “quarters of coverage” of the last 40 quarters. Simply put, you must have worked 5 years of the last ten years (in general).

In addition, Adult Disabled Children can be eligible for benefits off their parent’s account.

Also read Veterans Disability vs. Social Security Disability

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a need-based program and you must meet income/asset standards in addition to being found disabled. In 2023, SSI is $914.00 per month for an individual and $1,371 for an eligible couple. SSI will be reduced by 1/3 if you are receiving financial help from others. In NC, SSI recipients are also entitled to Medicaid.

Is an amputee considered disabled to SSA?

Amputation can be disabling, but 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, an artificial limb can allow a person to have an 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 an 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 1.20 Amputation due to any cause . This listing requires medical evidence that demonstrates:

A. The amputation of both upper extremities at/or above the wrist OR 

B. Hemipelvectomy or hip disarticulation OR 

C.  Amputation of one upper extremity and one lower extremity with the need for an assistive device that involves at least one of the hands of the remaining upper extremity. (Basically, this listing requires that you are unable to use your remaining upper extremity) OR

D. Amputation of one or both lower extremities at or above the ankle and the inability to use a prosthetic with a documented medical need for an assistive device involving use of both hands

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.

Also read Social Security Disability Conditions

Apply for disability benefits as soon as possible

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 RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids , Winston SalemGarner, GreensboroGreenville and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today or start your free case review online now!

Also read NC Social Security Disability Lawyer


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