Most of us have experienced a burn at some point in our lives. Taking dinner out of the oven or accidentally spilling a hot beverage can cause intense pain. These injuries, however painful they may be at the time, tend to heal quickly. There are some individuals, however, who suffer soft tissue injuries and burns that are so severe that they cause long-term or permanent disabilities, interfering with an individual's ability to perform day-to-day tasks and maintain full-time employment responsibilities. In these cases, unable to work, the disabled individual may wonder how they will be able to make ends meet. In some cases, Social Security Disability benefits may be able to help.
Soft Tissue Injury (Burns) - Condition and Symptoms
Not all burns are created equal and some are much more severe than others. There are varying degrees of burns. First degree burns are limited to the outer layer of skin. Superficial second degree burns involve injury to the outer layer of the skin and the outer layer of the dermis. Deep second degree burns affect the outer layer of skin deep into the dermis. Third degree burns involve injury through the epidermis and into the fat layer beneath the skin. In fourth degree burns, the injury extends from the outer lay of the skin into the underlying muscles or bones.
The symptoms of a burn will vary depending on the degree of the burn and where the injury has occurred. Common symptoms of a burn include local burning pain, reddening of the skin, blistering in the burn area, skin peeling, loss of skin, open wounds, fluid loss and nerve damage.
Filing for Social Security Disability with a Soft Tissue Injury (Burns)
When a burn is so severe that it impacts an individual's ability to perform substantial gainful work activity, that individual is entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a listing in its published guidelines of disabling conditions to cover soft tissue injuries. Under these guidelines, a burn must be present on an upper or lower extremity, the trunk of the body or the face or head. The burn must also be under the continuing care of a surgeon for the purpose of salvaging or restoring the affected area for major function. If surgery has been unsuccessful, you may also qualify for disability benefits from the SSA. As with all disability claims, your injury must be expected to last at least twelve months in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
When filing for Social Security Disability benefits based on a soft tissue injury you will need to prove that your injury is so severe that it prevents you from performing any type of work activity and that your burn is not expected to heal within a period of twelve months from the date of your injury. This can be done by providing complete copies of your medical records to the SSA along with a history of your surgeries and written statements from your treating physicians and surgeons. The residual functional work capacity form that you will fill out with your application will also play a role in whether or not you are approved for disability benefits, so make sure you are accurate and thorough when filing out the disability claim forms.
In some cases a Social Security Disability applicant will have enough medical evidence to qualify for disability benefits during the initial stage of the application process. It is important to understand, however, that only 30 percent of applications are approved by the SSA during the initial application stage. The remaining 70 percent of disability applicants must pursue the disability appeal process in order to obtain the benefits they are entitled to. If your initial application is denied by the SSA, you will need to file an appeal and have a hearing before an administrative law judge in order to obtain the benefits you may be entitled to.
Soft Tissue Injury (Burns) and Your Social Security Disability Case
If you file for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as your injury occurs, you will likely be denied. This is due to the fact that it may be hard to prove that your injury will last twelve months or more during the initial stages of your burn treatment. Even if it has been twelve months since your injury, it may still be hard to prove that you are completely unable to work due to the limitations your injury places on you. Because of this, you should consider retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer.
Your disability advocate can help you gather the medical evidence that will be needed to prove that your soft tissue injury prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity. He or she will gather written statements from your doctors and surgeon, medical records and may also call in expert witnesses regarding your medical condition and your residual functional work capacity. The good news is that nearly two-thirds of disability cases are won at the hearing level of the appeal process and your chances of obtaining benefits as a result of your Social Security Disability hearing are increased with proper legal representation.