Disability Benefits For Soft Tissue Or Burn Injuries

Burns and soft tissue injuries can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  As both burns and soft tissue injuries may range in severity from minimal to disabling or even life threatening, the Social Security Administration will evaluate your medical conditions to determine if your conditions are severe enough to qualify for benefits.


Some of the soft-tissue injuries you are most likely to experience include:

  • sprains
  • strains
  • contusions
  • tendonitis
  • bursitis
  • stress injuries

Any of these can be the result of a single episode, such as a fall, a sudden twist, or a blow to the body. You might also sustain one or more of these injuries because of repeated overuse, such as in ongoing athletic activities. In this case, small amounts of body stress accumulate slowly but steadily. The result can be damage and pain.


First degree:

  • Includes only the outer layer of skin, the epidermis
  • Skin is usually red and very painful
  • Equivalent to superficial sunburn without blisters
  • Dry in appearance
  • Healing occurs in 3-5 days, injured epithelium peels away from the healthy skin
  • Hospitalization is for pain control and maybe fluid imbalance

Second degree: Can be classified as partial or full thickness.

  • Partial thickness
    • Blisters can be present
    • Involve the entire epidermis and upper layers of the dermis
    • Wound will be pink, red in color, painful and wet appearing
    • Wound will blanch when pressure is applied
    • Should heal in several weeks (10-21 days) without grafting, scarring is usually minimal
  • Full thickness
    • Can be red or white in appearance, but will appear dry.
    • Involves the destruction of the entire epidermis and most of the dermis
    • Sensation can be present, but diminished
    • Blanching is sluggish or absent
    • Full thickness will most likely need excision & skin grafting to heal

Third degree:

  • All layers of the skin is destroyed
  • Extend into the subcutaneous tissues
  • Areas can appear, black or white and will be dry
  • Can appear leathery in texture
  • Will not blanch when pressure is applied
  • No pain

To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet or equal a Social Security listing, or prove that there are no jobs that you can do based on your age, education and residual functional capacity.  Soft tissue injuries and burns are evaluated under several listings.  Listing 1.08 covers soft tissue injuries and burns that are currently being treated, while listing 8.08 deals with burns after treatment has concluded.

Listing 1.08:

1.08 Soft tissue injury (e.g., burns) of an upper or lower extremity, trunk, or face and head, under continuing surgical management, as defined in 1.00M, directed toward the salvage or restoration of major function, and such major function was not restored or expected to be restored within 12 months of onset. Major function of the face and head is described in 1.00.

Listing 8.08

8.08 Burns, with extensive skin lesions that have lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months (see 8.00F).

To satisfy these listings, the claimant must provide documentation including medical records, treatment notes, opinions of treating physicians and laboratory results to substantiate their conditions and limitations.

If you do not meet or equal the listings described above, you can still qualify for disability benefits under the Medical-Vocational allowance.  See our other post for a discussion on the Medical-Vocational allowance.