Social Security Disability For Burn Survivors
By: Molly Clarke

Social Security Disability Benefits for Burn Survivors

Exposure to fire, chemicals, and electricity can all cause serious harm to the human body. Such exposure can result in burns-ranging from minor irritations to life-threatening injuries. Serious burns may require hospitalization, surgeries, and many months of physical therapy.

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Individuals who have survived third and/or fourth degree burns will likely be hospitalized and unable to return to work until they are healed. And some individuals may be declared either permanently or temporarily disabled by their physician and he or she will not be able to return to work. The resulting loss of income paired with the sudden onslaught of medical bills can cause significant financial and emotional distress.

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits to individuals who can no longer work due to severe burn injuries. The following article will give you a brief introduction to the benefits available to burn survivors and will get you headed down the path toward financial assistance.

Additional Considerations

It is understood that many burn survivors may not be able to complete the application process on their own. If an applicant needs assistance, a family member or caretaker is allowed to apply on his or her behalf.

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Social Security Disability Benefit Programs

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two different types of disability benefits:

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a type of insurance program offered to disabled workers and their families. To be eligible for SSDI, an applicant must have earned income and paid Social Security taxes for a specific amount of time. Learn more about SSDI eligibility, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi.

The second type of disability benefit is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI is offered to disabled and elderly individuals who earn very little income. Eligibility for SSI benefits is based solely on financial limits set by the SSA. Learn more about the financial requirements for SSI, here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi.

Medical Requirements

If you meet the technical requirements for SSDI or SSI, you will then be evaluated based on medical criteria. These medical criteria can be found in the SSA's Blue Book. Essentially, the Blue Book is a list of qualifying conditions and medical criteria. Burn injuries will be evaluated based on one of two listings.

Burns that are still being surgically treated are evaluated under Blue Book listing 1.08 (soft tissue injury). To qualify under this listing an applicant must prove that he or she has:

- Injuries or burnInjuries or burns to the soft tissue of his ors to the soft tissue of his or her legs, arms, face, head, or trunk;

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- Documentation that he or she is being treated by a surgeon to salvage or restore the functional use of the injured area;
- Records proving the limited functional use of injured areas, including an estimate as to when full functional use will be restored, if ever.

In the case of burn injuries that are no longer being treated by a surgeon, the applicant must meet Blue Book listing 8.08 (burns). To qualify under this listing an applicant must prove that he or she has:

- Extensive skin lesions that have lasted-or are expected to last-at least one year.

Access all Blue Book listings, here:

http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

Application Preparation

It is important to realize that you will not qualify for disability benefits simply by meeting one of these
two listings. You must be able to provide medical proof of your injuries. This can include evaluations and reports from your physician, surgical records, records of physical therapy, prescriptions and bills for medications and more. You should also ask your doctor or surgeon to provide a written statement describing your injuries and the limitations that they cause.

For a complete list of necessary documents, visit the SSA's Adult Disability Checklist: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Adult.pdf

Social Security Disability Application Process

You can begin the application process on the SSA's website or in person at your local Social Security office. It is important that you complete all paperwork completely and accurately. Provide as much detail as possible to avoid confusion and to explain the extent of your injuries.

Understand that your application may be denied. If this happens, it is not the end of the road. You have the right to appeal this decision within 60 days of receiving your denial notice. Although being denied is discouraging, statistics have shown that applicants are more likely to be approved during the appeals process than during the initial application process.

Once you are approved for disability benefits, you will be able to focus on your recovery rather than your finances.

If you have any questions and need more information about disability benefits, visit Social Security Disability Help Blog or contact Michael Appleman at michael@burnsurvivorsttw.org and he will forward your question(s) to Molly Clarke.

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