BURN INJURIES & SSD BENEFITS
WHAT ARE BURN INJURIES?
Burn injuries are damage to the skin or other tissues caused by exposure to heat, chemicals, electricity, radiation, or friction. Burn injuries can vary from minor burns to more severe burns that penetrate deeper layers of skin tissue. Severe burns can cause physical and emotional trauma. One of the main problems with burn injuries is that they can lead to other problems, such as infections, shock, and scars. Long term rehabilitation may be necessary to address the lasting effects of these type of burn injuries.
According to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were around 3,200 deaths due to fire and burn injuries in the US in 2019. Not all of these deaths were caused by burn injuries alone. There may have been other medical factors, such as smoke inhalation.
The CDC also reports that in 2019, there were about 486,000 burn injuries that required medical treatment. Around 40,000 people with burn injuries had to go to the hospital for treatment. Most of these with burn injuries occurred at home where people had contact, scalding, and electrical burns. Additionally, some people had chemical burns or burns because they came into contact with fire.
BURN INJURIES THAT QUALIFY FOR SSD BENEFITS
Burn injuries fall under the category of soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries refer to damage to the body’s soft tissues, such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or skin. Burns can result from exposure to heat, electricity, radiation, chemicals, or friction.
Doctors classify burn injuries by degree. First degree burns affect only the outer layer of skin and usually heal within a week. This is the type of burn injury that does not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Second degree burns involve the outer and underlying layers of skin. These burns may take several weeks to heal. Third degree burns are the most severe, because they involve all layers of the skin and tissue. A third degree burn can cause scarring and will require medical treatment.
The SSA considers burn injuries under Listing 1.21. In order to win benefits for a burn injury, you must have all elements under Listing 1.21. However, if you do not meet the listing, you can equal the listing. Equalling the listing means you have a combination of medical conditions that are as severe as the listing that keep you from working. In order to be paid benefits, your burn injuries must prevent you from working at any job for over one year.
TWO TYPES OF SSD BENEFITS FOR BURN INJURIES
There are two types of benefits you can receive under the Social Security program: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to receive benefits, you must file an application. You can do this online on the Social Security’s website. Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for if you have burn injuries:
SSDI benefits are for those who have worked in the recent past and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
SSI is needs based and is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month does not qualify for SSI benefits. If you have a child with burn injuries, for example, then the parents income will be the main factor in whether the child can receive SSI benefits. As an adult, if you are married and are filing an SSI application for burn injuries, the income of your spouse will be the main factor in whether you can be paid benefits. You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your burns injuries are, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.
TYPES OF BURN INJURIES
There are several types of burns and they are classified according to the severity of the injury and the source of the burn. Here is an overview of the different types of burns:
- Thermal burns: These are the most common type of burn and are caused by contact with flames, hot liquids, steam, or hot objects. Thermal burns can occur in a variety of settings, including house fires, car accidents, workplace accidents, and cooking incidents.
- Electrical burns: These are caused by contact with electrical current and can range from minor to severe, depending on the voltage and duration of the exposure.
- Chemical burns: Chemical burns are caused by exposure to corrosive chemicals, such as acids, bases, or solvents. This type of burn can result in serious tissue damage.
- Radiation burns: Radiation burns are caused by exposure to high energy radiation, such as radiation from X-rays, nuclear sources, or the even the sun.
- Friction burns: A friction burn is caused by contact with a hard or rough surface. For example, you may have had a carpet burn. Likewise, road rash from a motorcycle accident is also a friction burn.
CATEGORIES OF BURN INJURIES
Doctors will often classify burn injuries according to the depth or severity of the injury. The three main categories of burn depth are:
- Superficial burns: These are known as first degree burns. They affect only the outer layer of skin and cause redness, pain, and minor swelling. You may have had a first degree burn if you touched the stove or the bottom of your iron. These burns heal quickly and don’t cause lasting damage.
- Partial thickness burns: This type of burn is a second degree burn. These burns affect the outer and underlying layers of skin and cause blisters, and intense pain.
- Full thickness burns: These burns are third and fourth degree burns. They affect all layers of skin and underlying tissue. This type of burn may cause the skin to appear white, black, or charred. Full thickness burns require medical attention. It is likely this type of burn will cause significant scars and permanent tissue damage.
QUALIFYING FOR SSD BENEFITS WITH BURN INJURIES
There are two different rules that the SSA may use to determine if they can pay you SSDI or SSI benefits for your burn injuries. One of the rules applies to injuries that are being treated with surgery. The other listing is for injuries that are not being treated with surgery. Each listing has very specific rules which will be discussed below.
Listing 1.21 applies to burns of the lower or upper extremity, face, trunk, or head that require surgery. If the burn injury requires surgery to repair it or to restore function, then you may qualify for SSDI and SSI benefits using this listing.
Listing 8.08 applies to burn injuries that do not require surgery. Instead, the focus under this listing is the type of skin injury that you have from the burn.
In either case, your doctor must believe that the burn injuries you have will take at least 12 months to heal. You must provide medical records which show that your surgeon is working to restore function of the burned area. Under the skin listing, you must show through your medical records that your burn injury has affected your ability to function. an estimate from your doctor as to when function will be restored to the burned area, and medical records that show the burned area in not functional.
SSA LISTING 1.21 FOR SOFT TISSUE INJURIES LIKE BURNS
SSA Listing 1.21 pertains to “Soft tissue injuries of an upper or lower extremity, trunk, or pelvis, which result in a significant disruption of the ability to ambulate effectively or to use the upper extremities.”
Soft tissue injuries include burn injuries or other types of injuries that affect the body’s soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. These injuries may result from trauma, overuse, or degeneration. They usually cause pain, inflammation, and impact your range of motion. Examples of soft tissue injuries that may meet the rules of Listing 1.21 include:
- Severe sprains or strains
- Ruptured or torn ligaments or tendons
- Nerve injuries, such as brachial plexus injuries
- Soft tissue injuries from burns or electrical injuries
To meet Listing 1.21, you must have medical evidence to support a soft tissue injury. For example, you will need imaging studies, nerve studies, or other medical tests. In addition, the injury must result in a significant problems with your ability to walk or use both upper extremities.
LISTING 8.08 FOR BURN INJURIES
Listing 8.08 applies to burns that do not require surgical management. You must be able to show that your burn injuries impair a major bodily function or cause skin lesions that will last longer than a year. Under listing 8.08, you must provide medical records that show your treatment history. The medical records must show the side effects caused by treatment and the extent of your skin lesions. They must also discuss the symptoms caused by the burns or skin lesions and how the burns limit your ability to function.
Listing 8.08 states the SSA will pay you benefits if your burns have “extensive skin lesions that have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”
Electrical, chemical, or thermal burns affect other body systems. The SSA states, for example, that burn injuries can cause problems with the musculoskeletal system and the special senses and speech. Burn injuries can also cause problems with the respiratory, cardiovascular, renal, neurological, or mental system.
The SSA will look at burn injuries in the same way that they look at other medical conditions that can affect the skin and body systems. For example, if your soft tissue injuries are under ongoing surgical management, then the SSA will use listing 1.21. However, if your burns cause skin lesions that result in a very serious physical limits that can be expected to last for an ongoing period of at least 12 months, the SSA will use listing 8.08.
BURN INJURIES AND YOUR RESIDUAL FUNCTIONAL CAPACITY
If you don’t meet one of the above rules, you can still win SSDI and SSI benefits through a vocational allowance. This takes your burn injuries, medical conditions, your age, work history, skills, and education into account.
The SSA figures out your residual functional capacity (RFC), by using your statements on the forms you fill out for them. For example, when you fill out forms about your past work, you state how much you lifted on the job and how much you stood or sat.
Your answers on these forms are often some of the most important statements you make. If you state on your Work History form that you lifted nothing on the job, then that is what the SSA assumes is correct. Frankly, there are no jobs where you lift “nothing.” But for some reason, many people write that down as an answer. Even desk jobs require some lifting. You might, for example, lift files, boxes of paper, books, or supplies.
Think about it. Failing to tell the SSA about the lifting you had to do on your past jobs, makes it easier for them to return you to your past jobs. In other words, you are making it easier for them to deny your case.
An RFC form filled out by your treating doctor can prove you cannot work. For example, your doctor can tell the SSA how long you can stand, how far you can walk, and how much you can lift. The forms your doctor submits can also show your ability to squat, bend, and use your hands. If you doctor states that you cannot complete an 8 hour workday due to your medical condition, then that will help you win your benefits.
DOCUMENT BURN INJURIES WITH MEDICAL RECORDS
Social Security is required to look at all of your medical records. They will focus on the twelve months before the date of your application for benefits. When you complete your application forms, you should list all of your doctors and treating sources. For example, list your doctors, counselors, clinics, and include any hospital visits.
Social Security will ask you to sign its Authorization to Disclose Information so they can get your medical records. While Social Security is supposed to help you get your medical records, sending them yourself will help you avoid delays in your case. Only submit a copy of your records to the SSA. Never submit the only copy of your records and expect to get it back. You won’t. Always keep the original or keep your copy of the records for your future use.
Even if the SSA collects your records, it is still your burden to prove that you should be paid benefits. Therefore, it is up to you to make sure the SSA has all of your records. When you have an attorney, they have access to your SSA file when you reach the hearing stage. Your attorney can make sure that the judge reads all of your records. Read more here about the importance of medical records in your benefit case.
If you don’t have a doctor, we have resources on this website to help you. For example, you can find a doctor on our free and low cost mental health resources list in Nevada. We also have a list of Utah’s free and low cost health resources. Additionally, we provide a list of free mental health services in Idaho and a list of free mental health services in Colorado.
CANNON DISABILITY CAN HELP YOU WIN BENEFITS
At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you apply for Social Security benefits if you cannot work due to burn injuries. You will need to be off work for over one year in order to win SSD and SSI benefits.
Also, we can help you appeal a denial from the SSA. Likewise, we can represent you in court. If necessary, we can also appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Additionally, we can file an appeal in Federal Court and represent you not matter where you live.
Not only do we want to win you ongoing benefits, we also try to win all of your past due Social Security benefits. When you file your application, it can take so long to get through the appeal process that you will be due back benefits. Also, if you have previous applications, you might be able to win past due benefits on those prior applications. Learn more about past due benefits here.
Also, we bring over 30 years of legal experience to your SSDI and SSI case. For instance, Dianna Cannon has been helping clients win SSA hearings for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of legal experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI cases for our clients. You can trust we will do everything we can to win your SSDI and SSI benefits.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS
If you have burn injuries, then you need help to apply for Social Security benefits. You can always call our law firm and we will help you. We can help you file your application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Appeal if you receive an initial denial from DDS
- Help you confirm your SSA doctor exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the witnesses
- Read more about the job expert here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an SSA decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can.
IS HIRING OUR LAW FIRM EXPENSIVE?
No. We are not expensive, because we only charge you an attorney fee if we win your case.
It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. When we win your case, then you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit.
Also, there is a fee cap set at $7200 by the SSA. You never pay more than the fee cap at the hearing stage of your case. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the $7200 cap. You will pay the lesser amount between the fee cap and 25% of your back benefit.
If there are costs in your case, like getting medical records, then you pay for those costs. But the costs are usually less than $100. Typically, if a doctor charges for copies of your medical records, then that is your cost.
You will owe the costs in your case whether we win or lose your case. However, your attorney fees come from your back benefit and you pay them only if we win your case.
We will use our skills to help you through the Social Security appeal process. It is our goal to make filing for SSD and SSI benefits easier for you. We offer a free review of your case for burn injuries. There is no pressure to become a client if you call. Even if we don’t accept your case, we will still try to help you.
HIRE US FOR OUR YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERIENCE
If you have burn injuries or soft tissue injuries, then you need to hire a law firm with experience to help you win your benefits. Cannon Disability is one of the best Social Security law firms in the country. We are known as one of the best Social Security benefits firm in Las Vegas, Nevada. Also, we are one of the best Social Security law firms in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Our attorneys are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives. Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada SSI Information can also be found on this website. We also represent clients in Idaho. Find out more about Colorado SSDI benefits. Likewise, if you are from California, California SSD & SSI information can also be found on our website.
Over the last 30 years, we have won thousands of SSDI and SSI claims. Additionally, we have won over $100 million in SSD and SSI benefits for our clients. It has become more difficult to win Social Security cases. Also, SSA’s listing rules are harder to meet. That is why you need an attorney who will help you win your case.
We recommend you do not go to your hearing without an attorney. Why? Because a lawyer can prepare you for your hearing. She can explain the judge’s questions. Preparation will help you win your case.
Those who come to the hearing without counsel are usually not successful in winning benefits. You should hire an attorney who has legal experience winning SSD and SSI cases for burn injuries. Contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can help you win benefits for soft tissue and burn injuries. Contact us today for your free review of your case.