High court orders full disability for worker whose lost limb

U.S. Supreme Court

The South Dakota Supreme Court has ordered the state to grant a man whose lower leg was amputated as a result of a work injury permanent and total disability benefits.

Steven Billman was working at Clarke Machine when he cut his foot on a metal shaving in February 2015. His foot became infected and surgeons at Avera Hospital in Sioux Falls had to amputate his right leg just below the knee.

Billman is 64 and has multiple medical conditions, including diabetes. The state Department of Labor and Regulation granted Billman partial disability payments for 2 1/2 years. In 2018, Billman argued that he deserved permanent, total disability benefits, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The department said that while Billman did have some disabilities, he could still do some physical work, has the ability to adapt and learn new technology, and that his age doesn’t prevent him from finding work.

Billman appealed to the Hughes County Court where Judge Christina Klinger upheld that he was not unemployable and inappropriately limited the geographical size of his work search.

The justices this week concluded the department’s determination that Billman is not unemployable” is clearly erroneous.”

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