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Some Boston Burn Victims Eligible for Federal Disability Benefits

February is National Burn Awareness Month, so it’s an important time for both employers and workers to take notice and implement potentially life-saving measures that may have previously been overlooked. roaringbonfire.jpg

Our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys know that despite the efforts of various advocacy groups, some 5,000 U.S. workers will suffer some type of severe burn at work this year. The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration estimates that approximately 200 people a year die from workplace burns.

It’s not just fires, either. Burns can be caused by electricity, chemicals or radiation. The effects can be severe and permanently disabling, causing damage to the skin, eyes, lungs, throat and sometimes other vital organs.

Some of the industries that have high rates of burn incidents include:

  • Construction sites;
  • Roofing companies;
  • Chemical plants;
  • Steel mills;
  • Kitchens/restaurants;
  • Laboratories.

After seeking immediate medical treatment, one of the first things a worker and his family will need to decide is whether to pursue either workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You could technically file for both, but you should understand that one may affect the other. Our Boston SSDI lawyers also have extensive experience in workers’ compensation claims, so we are well-equipped to help guide you through the process.

A lot of it may depend on where the burn occurred and the severity of it. For example, if the incident clearly occurred while you were on-duty at work, workers’ compensation may be the best route for you. However, if the details of the incident are somewhat less clear or the incident did not happen at work but disabled you nonetheless, SSDI benefits are likely the advisable course. The latter may also be true if your burn injuries are severe and expected to last a long time. In fact, one of the basic requirements for SSDI benefits is that the condition will last at least one year.

Section 8.08 burns in the Social Security Administration’s disability evaluation blue book indicates that in order to qualify, an individual must have either extensive skin lesions or be somehow affecting other body systems.

The first part is fairly straightforward and would likely apply to any serious, third-degree burn on the skin. The second part references cases in which the burn might effect your respiratory, musculoskeletal, neurological or other systems. For example, if you suffer an electrical burn, it is possible that your neurological functions may be significantly diminished. Similarly, if your burns resulted in facial deformities, you could be entitled to benefits under the mental health guidelines.

You would also be considered a good candidate if your doctors expect that over the next year and beyond, you are likely to continue undergoing surgical procedures as a result of your burn injuries.

If you are considering filing for SSDI in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
February is Burn Awareness Month, Feb. 9, 2011, By Sheri Thornhill, Examiner
Section 8.08 Burns, Social Security Disability Administration, Blue Book, Nov. 29, 2012 Modifications
More Blog Entries:
Boston SSDI Seekers May Find Relief in 35 New Compassionate Allowances, Feb. 1, 2013, Boston Social Security Disability Lawyers Blog