Applying for Disability After a Burn Injury

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Burn injuries are often catastrophic for survivors. They can cause permanent scarring, serious disfigurement, loss of limbs, and life-threatening infections. Life as a burn injury survivor can look significantly different from your life pre-accident. You may suffer from permanent disabilities you did not have before that prevent you from going back to work. One potential source of financial assistance in this situation is the national Social Security Disability program.

What Is Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration offers benefits for people with disabilities in the U.S. as a way to bridge the gap between what they used to make and what they can make now, due to their physical or mental incapacities. It is a very important program for thousands of victims of personal injury accidents. Two different programs are available to help people with disabilities in the U.S. The right one for you will depend on your unique situation.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The SSDI program is only an option for workers who have paid Social Security taxes and who have a certain number of work credits. SSDI candidates must be under the age of 65. The applicant’s spouse, children, and other depends can receive partial (auxiliary) benefits through SSDI.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You may qualify for SSI disability benefits after a burn injury even if you have never worked, worked for low income, or do not have enough work credits for SSDI. SSI is needs based according to the individual’s income. You must have less than $2,000 in assets and limited income to qualify for SSI. SSI is more appropriate than SSDI for children under 18 with burn injury disabilities.

The Social Security Administration determines an applicant’s medical eligibility the same way for both programs. The main differences are the applicant’s work history and age. The SSDI program approves more applicants than SSI. You may qualify for disability benefits if you are unable to work, if your burn injury disability will last at least 12 months, and if the Administration has not denied you benefits in the last 60 days. If you are 18 or older and have a work history, apply for SSDI. Otherwise, try for SSI.

How to File a Disability Claim

If you believe you qualify for either type of Social Security Disability benefits after a serious burn injury, review the adult eligibility checklist. This will give you the information you need to conduct the claims filing process. First, you will need to create an online Social Security account. This may require information about your taxes. Then, gather information you will need during the claims process. This may include your marriage certificate, Social Security number, employment details, bank information, details of your medical conditions, health care information, and education.

With all the necessary information readily available, apply for SSDI or SSI benefits online. You can apply for both programs at the same time. You could receive benefits from both programs if your SSDI compensation has low monthly payments. Answer all questions openly and honestly during the claims process. You may need to supply documentation for the Social Security Administration to validate your information. It is wise to consult with an attorney before you file your claim. An attorney can help you fill out the correct forms to optimize your odds of a successful claim the first time.

If the Social Security Administration denies your application for SSDI or SSI, you may file an appeal. A lawyer can help you appeal the decision, offer additional documentation that proves your burn injury disability, and fight for the benefits you require to move forward. You have 60 days from receiving the denial document to file an appeal. Your appeal can move through four levels, all the way to the federal courts, for review. An injury lawyer can help you with each stage of the appeals process.