Burns and Social Security Disability

Burns- Condition and Symptoms

Burns are injuries to skin tissue that are caused by fire, chemicals, radiation, electricity, hot objects, hot fluids, the sun, or a number of other possible means. Most burns are relatively minor medical problems, but severe burns can be seriously debilitating or even life threatening.

The symptoms of burns range from mild skin irritation and redness to extremely painful skin lesions, blistering and scarring. Treatment depends on the type, location, and severity. Many small or minor burns can be treated with aloe vera or similar anesthetic creams or gels. More severe burns need to be tended to by a medical professional.

Medical attention should be sought for second degree burns or worse; or any burn that covers large portions of the body; especially the feet, hands, face, joints, buttocks, and groin areas. Second degree burns are recognized by a moist or wet appearance on the skin in most cases. Generally, the affected area will also be red and swollen and the burned person will have some lasting pain. In most cases, blisters will develop, eventually leading to scarring.

In more serious (third and fourth degree) burns, the skin will be red or (in the worst cases) blackened and charred. The surrounding area will often take on a waxy, tan appearance. Numbness is frequently experienced. Because of this, if you have been burned and don’t feel pain, you should seek medical attention, as you may have a serious burn.

Additionally, burns require medical attention if they are accompanied by illness, fatigue, high fever, increasing pain or swelling, or any affect on breathing or the airway, especially if you have inhaled smoke.

Severe burns can cause a complete inability to perform day to day functions. What exactly a burn will hinder you from doing depends largely on the part of the body which was affected. Some find that they are no longer capable of performing meaningful work for a significant period of time after they have suffered a burn. If you find yourself in this situation, you should consider filing for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Filing for Disability Benefits with your Burns Diagnosis

Burns are generally judged for disability purposes as skin disorders. The pertinent information regarding qualifying for disability with burns is found in Section 8.00 and 8.08 of the Social Security Administrations Listing of Impairments Manual (the Blue Book). In some cases, burns may also be considered based on the parts of the body that they affect, particularly if they cause blindness, loss of ambulation (ability to move from one place to another) or loss of usage of major limbs or joints.

In general, to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits with burns, there are two things which you must be able to demonstrate to the Social Security Administration. These are:

  • That the skin lesions caused by your burns cause you to be unable to perform meaningful work.
  • That the effect on your skin and/or body parts and functions which hinders you from being able to work can be expected to last more than twelve months.

When filing, you will want to make sure to include your doctor’s assessment of your burns. Ideally, this will go beyond a medical description of the burns and will list in detail what activities your burns hinder you from being able to do. It should also include all treatments you have undergone and your body’s response to these treatments. It should certainly also include your doctor’s assessment that the effects of your burns are expected to be serious enough to prevent you from meaningful work for at least one year.

Are Burns A Disability?

If you have suffered burns, you may be unable to work and earn a living. While burns do not automatically qualify you for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are two different listings under which an individual who is unable to work because of severe burns may be able to get his or her claim approved.

Qualifying for disability benefits for burns is complex and requires detailed medical records, but it is not impossible. You will need to provide detailed medical records that establish the nature and severity of your burns, and how your bodily function and ability to work have been limited by the burns. To get your disability claim on the right track, you will need to complete the claim form in detail and accurately and then provide the supporting documentation and evidence that your claim needs to proceed through the system.

It can take months and several steps for a claim to be approved, and most denials are because of a lack of supporting documentation. You will want to make sure all your medical records are in order so you can prove the severity of your injury and how it has kept you from working and earning a living. Remember that documentation is essential to the success of your disability claim.

Medically Qualifying For Disability With Burns

There are two different listings that may be used to determine if a burn qualifies for disability benefits. One of the listings applies to injuries that are being treated with surgical management and the other is for injuries that are not being treated with surgical management. Each listing has very specific criteria that must be met.

Listing 1.08 applies to burns of the lower or upper extremity, face, trunk, or head that require surgical management. If the burn was so extensive that it required surgery to repair it or to restore a major bodily function, then you may qualify for disability benefits using this listing.

The burn must be one that your physician believes will take at least 12 months to heal, and you must provide supporting medical documentation, which may include medical records detailing how a surgeon is currently working to restore functioning of the burned area, an estimation from your physician as to when functioning will be restored to the burned area, and medical records that show you don’t have functionality of the burned area.

Listing 8.08 applies to burns that do not require surgical management. You must be able to demonstrate that your burn injuries caused the impairment of a major bodily function or caused debilitating skin lesions that your physician believes will last longer than a year. To qualify through this listing, you must provide documentation to establish your treatment history, the side effects caused by treatments, the extent of your skin lesions and details about the flares, symptoms caused by the burns or skin lesions, your treatment history, and how the burns limit your functionality.

If you don’t meet the specific criteria of a listing, you can still qualify for disability benefits through a medical vocational allowance. This takes your burns, any medical conditions, your restrictions and limitations, your age, work history, transferrable skills, and educational background all into consideration. A residual functional capacity (RFC) form completed by your treating doctor can prove your disability by detailing your restrictions and limitations specifically. An RFC will detail how long you can stand, how far you can walk, if you can lift, your ability to squat and bend, your ability to reach, and so forth.

How To Increase The Chances Of Having Your Claim Approved

The key to a successful disability claim is providing detailed supporting documentation and hard medical evidence that back up your claim and show the severity of your injuries as well as any restrictions or limitations that you may have because of those burns. All forms that pertain to the disability claim must be filled out completely and in detail. You will need to make sure that you answer every question honestly and accurately.

You must make sure that your medical records and supporting evidence are all made available for review. Also, other documents, such as an RFC or statements from bosses or coworkers should be included as supporting evidence. If your burns have affected your mental capacity, then be sure to indicate that as well. After all, the pain medications and treatment could affect your concentration, cause fatigue, or lead to depression and anxiety that affect your ability to remember and stay focused.

Can I Continue Working With Severe Burns

Severe burns can affect the accident victim in many ways. Burns can affect both the mental and physical capacities of the individual to perform routine daily tasks or to work and earn a living. While some individuals with burns may be able to work and earn a living, others may be impacted much worse than others and find themselves needing help with routine daily tasks and unable to work and earn a living.

If you have found that you are unable to work because you have suffered painful, debilitating burns, you should get your disability claim underway. You can start the claims process online at the SSA website, which is www.ssa.gov, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 and speaking with a representative. You can also schedule an in-person appointment at the nearest SSA field office.

Your chances of having your claim approved and being awarded disability benefits will increase greatly if you enlist the help of a disability attorney. When you retain a lawyer, you will not have to pay anything out of pocket because they work on a contingency basis. That means that your attorney will not get paid until you win your claim. When a lawyer takes a disability claim on a contingency basis, he or she will receive about 25 percent of the backpay that you get for your claim, but that total cannot exceed $6,000.

Your Burns Disability Case

Burns are not an automatic qualifier for disability benefits, by any means. The SSA considers the sum total of symptoms you are suffering from, including pain, to determine whether your disability is severe enough to warrant Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, things like pain are impossible to definitively measure and much of the decision regarding whether or not to grant you benefits comes down to a judgment call on the part of SSA adjudicators.

More than two thirds of all disability claims are denied. This leaves claimants in the painful situation of dropping their claim or going through an often lengthy (and sometimes fruitless) appeals process. The best way to improve your chances of having your claim or appeal approved is to enlist the aid of a professional Social Security Disability attorney or advocate.

It doesn’t cost anything to have a disability attorney evaluate your claim, and your disability lawyer won’t charge you anything at all unless your disability benefits are approved. Social Security Disability attorneys are paid from a percentage (never more than 25%) of the back pay to which you are entitled. This is generally paid to them directly by the SSA, so you don’t need to be concerned about paying your lawyer from your ongoing benefits. To have a Social Security Disability attorney and advocate review your case today, fill out the request for a free case evaluation.