A total of 1.7 million people in the United States live with limb loss as of 2005, according to the National Limb Loss Information Center. Amputees, with some accommodations, can work in any number of fields. Amputees might also be eligible for disability benefits through Social Security, and can use disability insurance as a springboard to going back to work.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, was passed in 1990 and was significantly amended in 2008. The ADA requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. The ADA defines disability as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, and amputees may fall into this category. If you're otherwise qualified for a job, a disability can't be used as a reason for not hiring you, which keeps a broad range of career options open.
Working and SSDI
If you qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance because of an amputation, you can go back to work without jeopardizing your disability benefits. You initially have a trial work period during which your continue to receive your SSDI benefits. Your trial work period lasts from when you start working until you have nine months that you've earned $720 or more in a rolling 60-month period. At that point, you stop receiving SSDI benefits, but for 36 months after your trial work period ends, you can re-start your SSDI benefits without having to go through the application process again.
Independent Living Centers
Independent living centers are throughout the United States, and they provide services to the disabled including job training and help with locating and paying for assistive technology. If your arm is amputated, assistive technology may include voice-to-text software and a quality microphone, for example. Independent living centers can help you develop a career plan and refer you to any job training resources you might need.
Interviewing is a critical part of the job search process. For some, an amputation may not be obvious, particularly if it's a lower limb with a prosthetic. In that case, whether you want to disclose any accommodations you might need during an interview is up to you. If your amputation is obvious, address it directly during your interview, mentioning any accommodations you might need, and that most job-related accommodations are less than $500, according to the Job Accommodation Network.
- National Limb Loss Information Center; Fact Sheet -- Amputation Statistics by Cause
- Job Accommodation Network: Technical Assistance Manual -- Title I of the ADA
- Independent Living Centers: What is an Independent Living Center?
- Virginia.gov: Community Based Services
- Job Accommodation Network: Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact
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