Amputation vs. Loss of Use

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Most veterans are aware that additional benefits are available to a veteran who has been so severely injured as to suffer an amputation. They may not be aware, however, that similar benefits are available where amputation has not been required but the veteran has effectively lost the use of a hand, foot, arm or leg. When a veteran has lost the function of one of these body parts, he is presumed to have lost all use of that extremity and qualifies for additional disability benefits.

A veteran may qualify as having lost use of a hand if he is no longer able to grasp and pick up small items with that hand or if he is not able to manipulate them. For example, he many not be able to pick up and write with a pen or he may not be able to fasten buttons. In the same way, if he cannot bend his elbow, he may be considered to have lost the use of that arm.

Similarly, where a veteran is not able to balance on a foot or use it to move himself forward, he may qualify for loss of use of that foot. In addition, where a veteran is unable to bend his knee and, therefore, unable to properly use his leg, he may qualify for loss of use of that leg.

Ratings for loss of use of a limb often qualify veterans to receive benefits similar to those due to veterans whose injuries have required amputation of that limb. Even where a veteran is already entitled to a 100% rating, a loss of use rating may qualify the veteran for special monthly compensation above and beyond that 100% rating.

Special monthly compensation is also available in circumstances where a veteran has lost vision in one or both eyes. Similarly, special monthly compensation is available where the veteran has lost the use of both buttocks (causing problems rising from a seated position). Special monthly compensation may also be available in cases where the veteran has lost the use of a creative organ (for instance where a veteran suffers from erectile dysfunction).

This loss of use need not be the result of any particular injury or illness. The symptoms rather than the cause should be the focus here. So whether a veteran suffered a combat injury to his leg and foot or whether his diabetic neuropathy has caused him to have lost the use of his foot, he is equally entitled to special monthly compensation.

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