Can I Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits for Burn Injuries?

putting bandages on burn injury on armPeople suffering from severe burns may be able to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. However, you must first provide comprehensive evidence showing you meet the medical criteria. Another way to qualify may be through a residual functional capacity evaluation.

The Social Security Administration rejects a lot of applications, so you should consider discussing your burn injury with an experienced attorney. The Green Bay Social Security Disability attorneys at Sigman Janssen have helped people with a variety of medical conditions secure disability benefits. Our services are provided on contingency, so there are no upfront costs or legal obligations.

Below, we discuss seeking Social Security Disability benefits for burn injuries, including medical eligibility criteria and qualifying with your residual functional capacity. We also talk about the evidence you will likely need for your application.

Sigman Janssen. Free Consultation. Proven Results. (877) 888-5201

How a Severe Burn Could Affect Your Everyday Life

People suffering from third or fourth-degree burn injuries should strongly consider applying for disability benefits. Severe burn injuries like these can take a serious toll on a person’s physical health.

Many victims struggle with severe, chronic pain, which can limit their mobility and make it harder to perform daily activities they once took for granted. For instance, they may be unable to make full use of an affected limb because of permanent scarring. Permanent scarring can also limit victims’ ability to stand up or make other movements they used to be able to make. Burn victims may also be less able to manage personal hygiene without help.

The healing process for a burn injury can last a long time. Victims may need multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. You may not be able to work during your recovery. Some victims will be permanently disabled and unable to work for a long time, even after their burns have healed.

How Does the Social Security Administration Evaluate Burn Injuries?

Third and fourth-degree burn injuries may medically qualify for federal disability benefits. These injuries are called full-thickness burns, because they affect all layers of the skin. Fourth-degree burns penetrate to the muscles, tendons and even the bone. Doctors often need to intervene with surgery to help prevent infections from developing.

There are two listings under which burn victims may be eligible for benefits. If you have questions about whether you may qualify under one of these two listings, call Sigman Janssen. In a free consultation, we can explain how we may be able to help you pursue the benefits you need.

Listing 8.08 Burns

You can apply under this listing if you have a burn injury that:

  • Does not need continuing management through surgery OR
  • Has reached maximum therapeutic benefit (must be documented by an acceptable medical source)

The burn has caused:

  • Chronic skin lesions OR
  • Contractures that have caused you chronic pain or limitations in your physical capabilities that have caused related functional limitations

You must provide evidence that your burn injury causes one of the following functional limitations:

  • You cannot use both of your arms to start, sustain or complete work-related activities.
  • You cannot use one arm to start, sustain or complete work-related activities and you have a medically documented need to use an assistive device that requires your other arm.
  • You are unable to stand up after being seated and you cannot stay upright to engage in work-related activity.
  • You cannot stay in an upright position or walk as needed to start or complete work-related activities.

You are going to need a trained medical professional to evaluate whether your burns meet these qualifications. Sigman Janssen’s experienced attorneys know how to obtain the medical evidence needed to improve your chances of qualifying for benefits.

Soft-Tissue Injury Qualifications

Burns may also qualify under the soft-tissue injury listing in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book. If you apply under this listing, you must meet three criteria:

  • Provide evidence of ongoing surgical treatment of your injury, with the goal of saving, rebuilding or replacing the affected area/body part
  • Show that surgical treatment has lasted at least one year or is expected to last a minimum of one year
  • Prove you have not yet achieved the maximum benefit from surgical treatment

This listing is typically for burns to the:

  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Face
  • Trunk

What if I Do Not Medically Qualify for Benefits?

It may be possible to have a serious burn injury and not meet the medical criteria for one of the listings above. Fortunately, you might still qualify for benefits through a residual functional capacity (RFC) evaluation.

You can think of an RFC evaluation as a detailed report on your ability to perform work-related tasks. For example, this evaluation determines:

  • How long you can stay standing
  • Whether you can stand
  • How far you can walk
  • How much you can lift
  • How long you can stay in a seated position
  • Whether you are able to squat, bend over or use your hands

Claims examiners will also evaluate your work history, age, skills and education to determine what work you are capable of doing, if any.

They will look for any transferable skills that may allow you to work in another industry or a different type of job in your current industry. For instance, maybe you cannot stand up for extended periods or lift heavy things. However, you may be able to stay seated for prolonged periods and do work on a computer, depending on your skills and knowledge.

What Evidence Will I Need for My Application?

Our lawyers help applicants gather comprehensive documentation of their medical issues and how those issues affect their ability to work. This may include:

  • Detailed diagnosis of your burn injury
  • Records of visits with specialists and therapists
  • Records of hospital stays and surgical procedures you have undergone
  • Pictures of your burn injuries throughout the recovery process
  • Documentation of your pain levels and physical limitations – for instance, your doctors’ notes from your appointments should detail your symptoms and level of pain
  • And more

Generally, the SSA reviews records from the last 12 months before you applied for benefits.

It is difficult to know if you have sufficient evidence for your application without first discussing the situation with an experienced lawyer. If you try to go through the process on your own, you could miss something and this oversight could result in a denial.

Call Sigman Janssen Today To Discuss Your SSD Application

There is no way to guarantee that claims examiners will approve your application, but working with experienced attorneys may improve your chances.

At Sigman Janssen, we have been through the process many times. We know what claims examiners are looking for and how to build a compelling case for why an applicant should receive benefits. Our attorneys can manage every step of an appeal.

Have questions about your disability application? Call to schedule a free legal consultation: (877) 888-5201.