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Chronic Kidney Disease and Social Security Disability benefits

Karns & Kerrison

Some people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), specifically those in end stage renal disease (ESRD) and requiring dialysis to sustain life, will qualify relatively easily for Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, unlike other impairments as found in Social Security’s blue book, CKD almost automatically qualifies the claimant to receive benefits. It is rare that a claim for CKD is denied, and most claimants do not have to undergo a waiting period.

As anyone with CKD or ESRD is aware, the illness can change from day to day. You may feel “normal” one minute and unable to get out of bed the next. The days you are on dialysis may be more predictable, with many people always suffering the dreaded “dialysis hangover.” 

It is nearly impossible to be a reliable, productive employee, and SSD benefits can help you bridge the gap between dialysis and the time when you can obtain a kidney transplant and return to the workforce. Of course, some kidney patients are on dialysis for life and never receive a transplant.

Social Security classifies kidney failure as a genitourinary impairment. According to the listing, kidney patients can be granted SSD benefits if they:

  • Are on regular hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis
  • Have received a kidney transplant
  • Have reduced glomerular filtration along with symptoms of kidney damage
  • Have nephritic syndrome
  • Suffer from serious complications due to kidney disease

Social Security will require extensive medical documentation to determine your eligibility. Medical documentation includes your medical history, hospitalizations, doctor’s notes and laboratory test results that show an elevated creatinine or proteinuria level. Dialysis patients will also require a doctor’s note that states his or her need for ongoing dialysis treatment.

An attorney who is skilled at helping disabled individuals with kidney failure can ensure that your disability claim is handled appropriately and in a timely manner. 


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