If you have been assessed with kidney (renal) disease you may be considering filing a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. This post discusses how the Social Security Administration will evaluate your claim for benefits.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

SSA offers two types of benefits for disability claimants: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life while SSI is a need based program.

You must be found disabled under SSA’s Five Step Sequential Evaluation before you are entitled to either benefit. The first step is to apply for benefits online or at your local SSA office. If you are unable to work due to your muscular dystrophy apply for SSI and/or SSDI benefits as soon as possible. Delay may cause you to lose benefits!

Acute vs. Chronic Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can be acute (sudden) or chronic (ongoing). Acute renal failure can be caused by a drop in blood flow to the kidneys, damage from medications/infections/toxins or a blockage. Acute kidney failure can cause you to stop urinating and have swelling in your extremities. Acute renal failure is treated various ways but usually the underlying cause of kidney failure is the focus of treatment (e.g. stopping the medication that is causing the failure). Most people recover from acute kidney failure, but there may be permanent kidney damage that results in chronic renal disease. Via the Mayo Clinic .

Chronic renal disease reduces kidney function over time and can result in the need for dialysis or kidney transplant depending on its severity. Severe chronic kidney disease causes electrolyte imbalance and edema (swelling) as waste accumulates in the body. The final stage of chronic kidney disease is called end-stage renal disease. Via Medline Plus .

Is Kidney Failure a permanent disability to SSA?

The Social Security Administration can evaluate your claim for disability benefits under 6.02 Impairment of Renal Function . This listing requires your renal disease to last or be expected to last for at least 12 months and you require dialysis, kidney transplant or you have persistent elevation of your creatinine levels with accompanying symptoms.

If you meet this listing you are very ill. Many people with chronic kidney disease are unable to work before they meet this listing. Even if you do not meet this listing, you may still be found disabled based on the combination of your symptoms from your kidney disease or on the SSA Grid Rules if you are over 50 years old.

In my practice, chronic kidney disease approaching the final stage (requiring dialysis) is considered disabling while a claimant in the early stages (1-3) of kidney disease can have significantly more difficulty being approved for benefits by SSA. There also seems to be an assumption by SSA that one year after a kidney transplant a claimant can return to work (See 6.04).

If you are unable to work due to your chronic kidney disease, file a claim for disability benefits as soon as possible.

The Bishop Law Firm represents Social Security Disability clients in RaleighDurhamFayettevilleCary, Rocky MountWilsonSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today for a free case review, (919) 615-3095. 

Also read Overview of the Disability Process