If your kidney disease has worsened to the point that it prevents gainful employment, you can potentially receive disability from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Dependent upon the type of kidney disease and the severity of it, you may meet the eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Benefits through either or both of these programs are paid monthly, providing you with a steady income you can count on.
Medically Qualifying for Disability with Chronic Kidney Disease
The SSA’s disability listings appear in a manual known as the “Blue Book.” This book is written for medical professionals though. It can therefore be difficult for the average person to fully understand without the assistance of a physician.
Work closely with your doctor to determine if you meet one of the SSA’s kidney disease listings, of which there are several:
If you’re a dialysis patient, then your doctor will want to consult the listing in Section 6.03.
If you do not need dialysis, but your kidney function is severely compromised and has been for at least three months, then your doctor will need to review the requirements outlined in Section 6.05.
If you have nephritic syndrome, then the listing your physician should review is found in Section 6.06.
Even if you do not meet any of these listings, you can potentially qualify for benefits under Section 6.09, which details medical eligibility for individuals who experience severe complications of chronic kidney disease.
It is also important to note that you “automatically” qualify for benefits, if you need, or have undergone, a kidney transplant. You must still complete the full application process and back up your claim for benefits with appropriate medical records.
Regardless of the listing under which you may qualify for disability, your doctor can help you ensure your medical records meet SSA requirements. He or she can also be an invaluable partner by ensuring your medical records are provided in a timely manner to the disability examiner that reviews your application.
Compassionate Allowances for Rare and Advanced Kidney Diseases
The SSA’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program designates particular medical conditions for quick review and approval. Diseases on the CAL list are severely disabling and/or terminal illnesses. Although the SSA ensures your application is reviewed as quickly as possible if it falls under the CAL program, you must still apply and have the right medical evidence available to back up your claim for benefits. If you have a rare, advanced, or terminal kidney disease, your physician should consult the CAL list for the specific medical evidence needed.
Applying for Benefits
You can apply online or in person at your local SSA office, for SSDI benefits. Keep in mind however, that SSI applications require a personal interview and are usually therefore conducted at the local SSA branch.
You will need a variety of records and documentation at the time you complete your application. These include not just medical records and contact information for your doctor and other healthcare providers, but also the details of:
your previous employment,
your current finances,
your education and training history,
and information on your living situation.
The SSA’s disability starter kit can help you understand the application process. It also explains the types of information you’ll need handy for filling out your SSDI paperwork and/or for answering the SSA representative’s questions during an SSI application interview.
National Kidney Foundation: https://www.nkfi.org/
Blue Book Section 6.00: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/6.00-Genitourinary-Adult.htm
Compassionate Allowance List of Conditions: https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm
Disability Starter Kit: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_adult_eng.htm