While burns may heal in a relatively short time compared to other types of injuries, scar tissue can lead to lasting functional limitations. If burns are so severe that they interfere with a person's ability to work, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be available.
Qualifying for SSD benefits for burns can be complicated and requires extensive medical documentation to establish the nature of the burns and how they limit your body function. The Phoenix disability advocates at Dayes Law Firm PC are experienced at pursuing SSD benefits for claimants with various impairments. Schedule a free consultation today for help with your claim.
Degrees of Burn Injuries
There are three different types and degrees of burn injuries that involve different types of damage to the body. These burn types include:
First-degree burns are the least serious type of burn and only affect the outer layer of skin. While they may be painful, they generally do not cause health complications. These burns may look red and swollen, but they do not usually blister.
Second-degree burns may cause injury to the outer layer of the skin as well as the outer layer of the dermis. Second-degree burns look similar to first-degree burns; however, they do blister. They may ooze out clear fluid and can cause scar tissue that can restrict your movement.
Third-degree burns are the most serious. They are injuries that may go into the underlying muscle or bone. They may not feel as painful as first or second-degree burns, but that is because the underlying nerves have been destroyed. The skin may be leathery and discolored. These types of burns can cause significant health complications, including muscle tissue damage, kidney damage, infection and thick, crusty skin that can cut off the blood supply to other parts of the body.
Medically Qualifying for Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates the medical eligibility for burn injuries under two different listings: One for injuries that are being treated by surgical management and one for those that are not.
Surgical Burn Injuries
Blue Book Listing 1.08 applies to burns to a lower or upper extremity, trunk, face or head that are currently under surgical management. If the burn injury was so extensive that it required surgery to repair or restore a major bodily function, the burn may qualify under the listing.
The burn injury must be one that your doctor believes will take more than 12 months to heal, and you will have to provide medical evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Medical records that show a surgeon is currently working to restore the function to the burned area
- An estimation from your doctor of when function will be restored to the affected area
- Medical records that prove you do not have functional use of the burned area
While many SSD recipients are reevaluated by the SSA every three years to monitor ongoing disability, those who qualify under Blue Book Listing 1.08 can expect to be reevaluated sooner, especially once functionality has returned.
Blue Book Listing 8.08 concerns burn injuries that are not being surgically managed. To qualify under this listing, you have to demonstrate that your burn injuries resulted in the impairment of a major bodily function or in debilitating skin lesions that your doctor expects to last more than a year. To establish that you qualify under this listing, provide medical documentation that establishes:
- The extent of your skin lesions and how often they flare up
- Symptoms caused by your burns or skin lesions
- How your burns limit your functioning
- Your treatment history
- Side effects from treatments
If You Do Not Meet the Blue Book Listing
If you do not meet one of the medical listings described above, you may still qualify for SSD benefits if your injuries prevent you from being able to work. A detailed description from your treating doctor about how your burns limit your functioning and ability to work can help support your claim.
The SSA assesses your ability to work by using a residual functional capacity assessment. This assessment attempts to objectively measure your ability to perform basic job functions and describes your limitations regarding these common tasks. For example, a claimant with burn injuries may have difficulty walking, sitting, carrying items or lifting items. Burn injury victims may have damaged muscles or limited joint motion. Burns can also cause sensory limitations that may impair a person's ability to work.
Get Help with Your Burn Injury Claim
The dedicated Social Security Disability lawyers at Dayes Law Firm PC are experienced at gathering the medical evidence necessary to establish the extent that injuries limit a person's ability to work. We provide a no-obligation initial consultation and contingency fee agreements so that there are no upfront costs and all fees are delayed until your benefits are approved.