Suffering a burn in the workplace can dramatically change your life. Some workers lose their ability to return to work for a long period of time while they recover from an electrical, thermal or chemical burn sustained on the job. While Pennsylvania workers can turn to Social Security Disability for benefits, the criteria Social Security uses to evaluate burns for disability eligibility will vary depending on the nature of the burn.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) explains that burns usually affect a particular part of the body or a body system. Depending on where the burn was suffered and the intensity of the burn, in addition to skin damage, a burn may also afflict the lungs of an individual and result in serious respiratory impairment. Alternatively, burns can produce renal, cardiovascular, neurological, or muscular problems.
Because burns have varying impacts on the human body, the SSA will evaluate burns in the same way as other skin disorders, by the predominant damage produced by the burn. If your burn caused soft tissue damage, the SSA will look at its criteria for evaluating soft tissue injury. If the burn causes extensive skin lesions that hamper your ability to work but did not result in another serious impairment, the SSA will evaluate the burn according to how long your skin lesions have lasted or will last.
In addition to physical impairments, burns can also result in mental problems as well. Some burns damage brain tissue, nerves, or other sensory organs, all of which can harm mental processes. Sometimes a burn accident can cause psychological disorders such as PTSD, resulting in stress, anxiety, and depression. Since Social Security pays disability for mental disorders, workers who have psychological issues from a burn accident have additional grounds to apply for disability.