Burn injuries are very often life-altering, both in terms of the medical treatment and care needed to repair the damage from them and the effect they have on you as you try to move forward with your life. Burn injuries quite literally change your appearance, but also affect you in other ways. Most notably, a burn injury can leave you either completely or partially disabled.
Because severe burn injuries can destroy nerves and tissue of the affected area, you may not be able to go back to work or even enjoy life as you once did. All of these factors go into assessing the level of disability you’re facing. Disability assessment is an important aspect of any clinical care, especially for burn injuries.
Free Consultations For Kentucky Burn Injury Victims
A disability assessment–whether accurate or inaccurate–can significantly influence your well-being, given the impact that your disability status has on things like financial remuneration, your ability to return to work, your personal and workplace productivity, and access you have to both existing and future medical needs.
At Kaufman & Stigger, our experienced, dedicated Kentucky burn injury lawyers can help you through what can sometimes be a demoralizing and difficult process. Through our years of experience helping clients with their injuries, we have seen the impact that a disability assessment can have. A burn injury shouldn’t be able to take away from you and your family, but an incorrect disability assessment can do just that. We can help you appeal the decision, as well as make sure you have the support you need as you begin your path to recovery.
If you would like to begin this process, contact us today for a free consultation.
How Are Disabilities Defined and Assessed in Kentucky?
The starting point in the disability assessment process is first determining whether or not a disability exists. In Kentucky, the two main agencies responsible for determining whether a disability exists and the extent of it are:
- The Social Security Administration (SSA)
- Division for Disability Determination Services
The SSA is a federal agency that administers benefits through the social security program, known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), while Kentucky’s Health and Family Services (CHFS) division is responsible for issuing disability benefits through the state.
According to the SSA, a disability is any condition that:
- Prevents you from working and engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).
- Prevents you from working as you did previously or adjusting to other work activities.
- Has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
From there, the SSA and CHFS will assess your level of disability based on a series of tests, records, and other evidence, and issue a percentage score based on their assessment. Further, SSI benefits are only granted when you are determined to be fully disabled, officially known as “total disability”. Benefits are not granted for either short-term disability (STD) or partial disability.
As for disability benefits from Kentucky, the state supplies an additional state supplemental benefit that comes in addition to the federal SSI benefits, which are capped at $733 per month. However, only individuals who are living in a personal care home, a family care home, or under caretaker services can qualify for Kentucky state supplemental benefits. How much a recipient would receive depends on their living situation and marital status:
- $520 per month for a single recipient or $1,040 per month for a married recipient in a personal care home.
- $172 per month for a single recipient or $344 per month for a married recipient in a family care home.
- $62 per month for a single recipient or $115 per month for a married recipient with an in-home caretaker.
With the parameters of disability assessment and benefits established, you can then see how burn injuries can be especially disabling. The nature of burn injuries covers not just the incident itself, but the long-term ramifications that are so often involved in these types of accidents and injuries.
Disabling Burn Injuries in Kentucky
Even with advancements in medical technology and treatment, burn injuries frequently lead to disability for victims. This is because a burn injury affects multiple bodily functions depending on where the burn injury occurred. Of these injuries, the following are usually the most disabling:
- Loss of vision – When a burn injury occurs near the eyes, usually as a result of a chemical burn, it can cause significant damage. Of these damages, the loss of your vision is a real possibility. Obviously, vision loss is a permanent disability.
- Internal organ damage – During a burn injury, your body’s response can deprive important organs like the lungs, heart, brain, and kidneys of oxygen for a short time. When this happens, you can suffer debilitating organ damage that severely impacts the function of these affected organs.
- Loss of mobility – Often, a burn injury causes skin or tendons around joints to tighten, which restricts or totally prevents your movement. Not being able to move or use certain body parts often leads to disability.
- Scarring – One of the most common outcomes of a burn injury is scarring. Scarring sometimes leads to skin graft surgery, especially if the burn injury occurred on a highly visible part of your body like your face and hands. These scars not only have physical effects but also can have a large psychological impact and negatively affect your quality of life.
No matter what injury you have suffered because of your burn, if the effects are serious enough to warrant a disability assessment, you’ll need to be prepared. That’s where our experienced Kentucky burn injury lawyers can help.
How a Kentucky Burn Injury Lawyer Can Help You
There is no requirement for having a burn injury lawyer represent you in the disability claim process. However, there are many benefits to speaking to one before submitting your application. When going through the claims process, one of our experienced Kentucky disability lawyers can assist you by:
- Reviewing your case – Our experienced team of lawyers is well aware of what the SSA application and determination process is looking for. We can fully review your case from start to finish, regardless of where you are in the claims process, and help you determine the best path forward for your claim.
- Helping you complete the application – The majority of disability applications are denied initially, usually due to an incomplete or insufficient application. With a burn injury, treatments and surgeries are enough to worry about. Our team can remove some of the burden by assisting you with your application, making sure it’s complete.
- Gathering and organizing medical records – A crucial part of any disability claim is the medical records you have that show the extent of your injuries. A burn injury can be especially complex, as there are multiple specialists and treatments you would have to undergo. Our team can help you gather and organize these records to show the SSA how debilitating and disabling your burn injury really is.
- Filing your appeal – If your initial claim for disability is denied, you have the right to appeal it. However, like the initial application, there are many different steps in the appeals process, and they all have different deadlines. Our team is experienced in this area as well, and can help you meet these deadlines and appeal the SSA’s decision so you can hopefully get the benefits you need.
- Representing you at hearings – When you appeal a denied disability claim, you will have the opportunity to argue your case in front of an administrative law judge at an official appeal hearing. With the stakes so high, these hearings can be stressful. Our team can make sure you’re prepared and will represent you at these hearings to the best of our ability.
The fact is, if you’ve suffered a severe burn injury, you’re probably going to need assistance to move forward with your life. Disability benefits are in place for just this reason, and it’s vital that you receive them. That’s why it’s important to work with experienced Kentucky disability lawyers even though it’s not required. We can make sure you get the benefits that you and your family need.
Experienced and Dedicated Kentucky Burn Injury Lawyers
At Kaufman & Stigger, we know how debilitating a burn injury can be for you and your family. When suffering these unfortunate injuries, you need experience and dedication on your side. Our Kentucky burn injury lawyers can help you through the disability application process and represent you at any subsequent hearing to make sure you and your family get the benefits and support you need.
No matter where you are in the disability application process, contact us today for a free consultation.