Can I Get Social Security Disability for a Burn?

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If you are injured and unable to work you may be going through a lot of emotions. Most importantly you should be concerned about your health, however, people who have been injured often cant help themselves and are concerned about how they are going to provide for themselves and for their families.  Unfortunately, burn injuries can leave lifelong scars and prevent you from working or enjoying your life as you once did. This blog will explore the Social Security Disability Insurance program as it pertains to burn injuries.

Burn Injuries Can Be Severe

Burn injuries may result from a variety of reasons, from fires to chemicals, or even from an auto accident. However, while most burns are minor and heal on their own burns can range in severity and may be severe enough to leave a person disabled.

There are generally three degrees of burns which each depends on the extent of the burn.

  • First Degree – These are the most common burns and one that you might be familiar with. These burns are generally red, swollen, and painful when they are touched. However, they do not blister. Generally, first-degree burns do not cause any complications.
  • Second Degree – Second-degree burns may be more severe and tend to result in more complications. These burns are red, swollen, and painful and are often accompanied by blisters. Complications can include the formation of scar tissue that can shrink as it heals, which can restrict movement.
  • Third Degree burns – These burns are by some accounts the worst type you can receive, however, there is a fourth type of burn that will not be discussed in this post. These burns are not painful because the nerves underneath the burns are destroyed. The skin becomes leathery and discolored. Complications can be extensive with these burns and can include:
    • Destruction of muscle tissue
    • Infection that can spread into the bloodstream, and
    • Thick, crusty skin (eschars) that can become tight and cut off blood supplies to other areas of the body.

Depending on the severity of the injury a person may be entitled to receive compensation under the Social Security Disability insurance program.

Meeting a Listing for Burn Injuries in Arkansas

Electrical, chemical, or thermal burns frequently affect other body systems; for example, musculoskeletal, special senses and speech, respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, neurological, or mental. Soft tissues injuries and burns have two listings in the Social Security Blue Book. One listing covers injuries and burns that are still undergoing surgeries and other treatments in an attempt to restore function to the injured area. The other listing as it pertains to burn injuries is for impairments left from burns after all treatments have been completed.

Injuries or burns that are being treated. To meet the listing for injuries and burns still being treated (Listing 1.08), you must:

Have burns or other soft tissue injuries to your arms, legs, trunk, or face and head

Be undergoing treatment by a surgeon in an effort to restore or save “functional use” of the burned or injured area (including recovering from complications from the treatment, such as surgical complications, infections and illness related to the treatment, and the effects of those treatments on an individual’s ability to achieve the best results possible), and

Not have functional use of the burned or injured area restored, and functional use is not expected to be restored within 12 months of the initial burns or injuries.

“Functional use” of your arms and legs include the ability to walk and use your arms to complete tasks. Functional use of your trunk includes the ability to bend and twist to complete everyday tasks. Functional use of the face and head can include vision, hearing, speech, chewing, and swallowing.

For burns that are no longer being treated by any surgical means or procedures, the Social Security Administration will generally evaluate the impairment under the body system that is affected.

However, if it is only your skin that is affected, and you have multiple skin lesions that seriously impact your ability to function, you can be evaluated under the burn listing.

To meet the listing for burns no longer under ongoing surgical treatment (Listing 8.08), you must:

  • have burns
  • with extensive skin lesions
  • that have lasted or are expected to last for at least 12 months.

Skin lesions are considered extensive when they are present in different parts of the body or in critical body areas that has led to very serious functional limitations. An example of such skin lesions includes burns on the soles of both of your feet or palms of your hands that seriously limit walking or completing tasks using your hands, or burns on both arms near the joints that seriously limit the use of your arms.

The Appeals Process

Receiving any sort of rejection is sad and disheartening, however, when it is a letter denying disability benefits it can be crushing.  However, you should not be completely discouraged because there is a well-established appeals process of four different levels that you are entitled to exhaust.

Your appeals process begins the day that you receive a rejection letter stating that your claim has been denied by the Social Security Administration.  This letter will include detailed information about how you may begin the Social Security appeals process. The first appeal that you are entitled to is known as a “reconsideration.”  A reconsideration is a review process that looks at your claim in its entirety by a person who did not take part in the first decision. This review process also provides you to submit additional evidence and documentation from doctors and medical professionals. Often when a person submits additional information they are approved during the reconsideration. The Social Security Administration will look at all of the evidence that you submitted when the original decision was made, and will also consider any new evidence that you may have acquired that would support your assertion. You must first request a reconsideration and after the reconsideration is denied, you must request a hearing within the 60-day time limit.

You can appeal in one of three ways:

(1) Telephone the Social Security Administration and make arrangements for your appeal to be handled by phone and mail.

(2) Go to the Social Security office to submit your appeal. If you go to the Social Security office, be sure to take along a copy of your denial letter. And be sure that the Social Security representative gives you a signed copy of your appeal paper showing that you appealed on time.

(3) Appeal online at https://secure.ssa.gov/iApplsRe/Mesg024View.do. Be sure to print and retain the receipt for your appeal so that you can prove you appealed on time.

Generally, there are four levels of appeal that a person may utilize if they have been denied social security benefits. These include the reconsideration mentioned above, a hearing by an administrative law judge, a review by the appeals council, and finally, review by Federal Court.

Contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law for trusted SSD representation

For more than 20 years Ken Kieklak has fought for dedicated Arkansans who can no longer work due to an impairment or disability. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a Fayetteville social security disability lawyer call (479) 251-7767 today or contact our firm online.

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