Soft Tissue Injury (Burns) and Social Security Disability

Soft Tissue Burns

A soft tissue injury involves damage to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the body. These kinds of injuries include strains, sprains, contusions, and burns. Such injuries are often painful, and cause bruising, swelling, and other damage to the muscular system.

In some cases, soft tissue injuries can be serious enough to cause a complete or partial loss of function or ambulatory movement (i.e., walking). This is especially true of serious burn injuries to the soft tissue.

Soft tissue injury burns can come from a variety of sources. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fire
  • Chemicals
  • Scalding water or other hot liquids
  • Severe overexposure to sun or other elements
  • Electricity
  • Radiation

Burns often initially cause symptoms such as loss of skin, swelling, pain, and blistering. If the soft tissue damage is deep enough, it can cause symptoms such as shock. It can also lead to severe infections.

While less serious burns and soft tissue injuries can be treated with antibiotic creams and frequently changed loose dressings. More serious soft tissue injuries frequently require use of IVs, surgery, and lengthy rehabilitation. Most cities of any size will have a burn center, which focuses specifically on the treatment of soft tissue damage caused by burns.

The exact treatment required for a burn will vary considerably based on the burn’s severity, location, and cause. Burns are classified by their depth and severity. Burn depth is measured in degrees (first degree, second degree, third degree). Burn severity is measured in terms of how well the burn is expected to recover and is expressed as minor, moderate, or severe. Burns which cause soft tissue damage are generally categorized as third degree severe burns. These types of burns have more far reaching consequences and have the worst prognosis as far as the potential for eventual healing and restoration of proper function. Severe third degree burns can cause:

  • Shock
  • Chemical imbalances in the body
  • Muscle tissue destruction (often permanent)
  • Dehydration
  • Infection, sometimes severe enough to lead to death
  • Respiratory problems
  • Blood circulation problems

Extensive, severe burns are often treated with antibiotics and IV fluids. In many cases, a skin graft may be necessary. Occupational or physical therapy is sometimes used to help restore range of motion to affected limbs, digits, and joints.

Filing for Social Security Disability with a Soft Tissue Injury or Burn

Burns and other soft tissue injuries are covered in Section 1.00 of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book, which covers the Adult Musculoskeletal System. Generally speaking, in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits due to soft tissue injuries, you must experience significant loss of mobility, major limb function, or fine muscle movements. This loss of function must be expected to last (or have already lasted) at least twelve full months.

The loss of function can be a result of the soft tissue damage itself or the resultant pain. Pain must be the result of a medically determinable cause in order to be considered sufficient for disability benefits. In the case of a burn, there is definitely a medically determinable cause. It becomes important that medical evaluations by your physician completely and accurately report that the pain caused by your soft tissue damage severely limits your ability to function and perform every day activities.

With soft tissue damage resulting from burns, especially when pain is being considered as part of the reason why you can no longer continue working, the SSA will extensively evaluate your residual functional capacity. They will look at things such as your ability to perform daily activities in and around your home to determine whether you could perform similarly strenuous activities in the workplace.

It is important that you be very cautious when filling out the forms the SSA gives you, and it is often best to seek a Social Security attorney’s advice when filling them out. Seemingly innocuous questions are often geared towards proving that you could perform on the job.

The SSA will consider your doctor’s reports. They will also want to see the results of any medical imaging which has been performed. The SSA considers tests such as CAT scans and MRIs useful in determining disability, though they are unlikely to order such tests if you have not already had them, due to expense.

The SSA will also want to see documentation of all treatment you have received for your soft tissue injuries. This should include if and how you responded to the treatments and what the prognosis is regarding regaining lost functional capacity.

Your Soft Tissue Injury (Burn) Disability Case

If you have sustained soft tissue injury severe enough to limit your mobility or motor functioning, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, the process of applying for benefits can be a long and difficult one. Most people find it beneficial to hire a Social Security disability lawyer.

Your Social Security disability lawyer won’t cost you anything unless you receive your benefits. Even then, he or she will be paid a fee that is a designated percentage of your disability back pay.

If you are injured and unable to continue working, you don’t need to spend month after month waiting for an approval. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you get your claim approved so you can start receiving the benefits you need.