If you have been burned from a fire, hot liquid, electricity, corrosive chemical, radiation, careless smoking, abuse, or an unsafe storage of flammable or caustic materials you may have suffered severe scarring, burns, and disability. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “How severe does my burn have to be to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI?”
How are burns classified?
First, it’s important to discuss how burns are classified. Everyone has had a sunburn which causes pain and damages the outer or epidermal layer of the skin. This would be considered a first degree burn. More severe burns, however, are classified as second, third, or fourth degree burns.
A second degree burn damages the second layer of skin called the dermis. It can be accompanied by blisters and oozing. Third degree burns involve further damage not only to the skin but also the underlying bones, muscles, and tendons. Third degree burns will permanently damage the nerve endings and leave the burn site with scars which are pale, charred, or leathery. Finally, fourth degree burns extend through all skin lawyers, the subcutaneous fat and into the underlying muscle and bone, leaving the skin permanently stiff and charred.
Burned but am I disabled?
If you have been burned you may have permanent and severe scars, pain, and disability. The Social Security Administration awards disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). When evaluating a claimant’s condition they will first determine if the claimant is working, if the condition is severe, if the worker has sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI, and whether their condition will last 12 continuous months. The SSA will also review the claimant’s condition to determine if it “meets and equals” a condition in the SSA listing of Impairments.
If you are awarded SSDI benefits you will receive a monthly disability payment which is considered a wage replacement benefit. This benefit is paid until you are no longer disabled, you are able to return to work or you reach your full retirement age.
Are Burns listed in the SSA Listing of Impairments?
Burns are listed in the SSA listing of Impairments under 8.0 Skin Disorders, Section 8.08 Burns. The SSA will evaluate your burns to determine if they have “extensive skin lesions that have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”
The SSA will also evaluate whether your burns have affected other body systems such as the musculoskeletal system, special senses and speech, the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the renal system, the neurological system, or your mental faculties. If your burns affect another bodily system the SSA will evaluate your condition under the appropriate listing for that system.
Qualifying through a medical vocational allowance
If your condition does not meet a listing it does not mean you will not win benefits but you will have to prove your burns are so severe that you cannot perform your current job or retrain for new work. Winning benefits through a medical vocational allowance is much more difficult for younger claimants who are highly educated and who can be retrained for sedentary work. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about whether your burns would allow you to qualify for SSDI benefits.