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Amputees do not automatically qualify for SSD benefits

At the Disability Rights Law Center in California, we often help injured people review their cases and file for Social Security disability benefits. If you have recently suffered an amputation, you may have visited the SSA website in hopes of identifying whether your situation qualifies for disability benefits. 

Unlike eligibility for workers' compensation, it does not matter if your injury happened at work or somewhere else. The primary consideration is whether it keeps you from maintaining employment that can support you and anyone who depends on you. The SSA does have specific criteria for amputees to meet before they can receive benefits. You can find this information under the category, 1.00 Musculoskeletal System. 

If you have lost both your hands, this impairment is so severe, it automatically qualifies you for SSD benefits. The loss of one hand does not, though, as you may still be able to find gainful employment and function with one hand.

Loss of your legs is also not an automatic qualifier. The key to impairment with regard to your lower limbs is whether you can "ambulate effectively." So, if there are complications that prevent you from using prosthetics, and the device you use limits your ability to use your hands, you may be eligible. If you have only one hand and you lose your leg above the ankle, you may qualify for SSD benefits because this is likely to prevent you from using a crutch, walker or wheelchair. If, in addition to losing a leg, you also have a portion of your hip amputated, you automatically qualify for SSD benefits.

More information about the SSA impairment list is available on our webpage.

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