Can I Get Social Security Disability for My Kidney Disease?
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) can cause drastic impairment of renal function, affecting your ability to make it through the work day. The cause of CKD can be ethnicity, heredity or other conditions like diabetes or hypertension. It can become so disabling that you should think about filing for Social Security Disability (SSD). Under SSD Adult Listings for various types of kidney diseases are detailed under “genitourinary impairment”. They include complicated conditions like chronic glomerulonephritis, hypertensive nephropathy, diabetic nephropathy, chronic obstructive aeropathy, and hereditary nephropathies, and nephrotic syndrome due to glomerular dysfunction. You should get your exact diagnosis from your kidney specialist to help your claim, before you file it.
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When Should I Consider Filing My Social Security Disability Claim?
Many people continue to work with mild to moderate symptoms of CKD for years. But the bodily disorders caused by the underlying kidney disease can eventually result in such serious limitations that a person’s ability to work on a full-time basis is gravely affected. It all depends on the severity of your symptoms and daily problems arising from your kidney issues. Depending on the severity of symptoms from whichever CKD you may have, you may qualify for disability rather quickly. The real question is when should you file for SSD? Because of the Five Step process used by SSD to evaluate your claim for disability, the loss of ability to continue at your job full time is the correct time to file the disability benefit application.
Step 1 of the Social Security Disability process requires you to show you are not working and cannot engage in substantial gainful activity. In other words, you are not able to earn your regular paycheck anymore. If you do not clear Step 1, the claim stops right there. The claim is denied because SSD is built on a worker’s inability to earn his living due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments. The impairment(s) must be expected to result in death or have had lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months. It must also reduce or eliminate your regular paycheck below a set limit.
How Does this Criteria Apply to a Social Security Claim for CKD?
Some cases are easier than others. For example, SSD considers a patient disabled for a full year after any kidney transplant surgery. This occurs due to issues with the body’s rejection of the new organ and immunosuppression effects. So if you stop working and have a transplant procedure, you automatically have the 12 month or longer impairment period which SSD is seeking at Step 1. In addition, if you are under dialysis treatment and awaiting a transplant, your claim will likely be granted quickly at the claims office. Lastly, some forms of kidney cancer lead to a favorable decision on your claim, under new Compassionate Allowance rules in effect.
For everyone else claiming disabling kidney disease, you can clear Step 1 and get a favorable decision if the claim is presented correctly. To decide whether an individual is disabled from CKD, SSD looks at symptoms, physical signs, testing and laboratory results. Even the medications you are taking are reviewed because of side effects which affect work ability. These include high blood pressure, deep fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and significant weight loss. Steroids taken for kidney disease also cause daily side effects, including long-term bone loss and mood affect.
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What Will Social Security Consider in Deciding My Claim?
Some signs and symptoms SSD looks for include evidence demonstrating the signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings of your CKD. This evidence should encompass reports of clinical examinations, treatment reports, and documentation of your responses to all treatments. Lab findings, (i.e., serum creatinine or serum albumin levels), may also give a picture of your kidney function. SSA generally wants to see evidence covering a period 90 days or more, unless your CKD allows a fully favorable determination or decision without it. That happens usually only in cases of transplants and kidney cancers.
Specific complicated tests are also very useful in your SSD claim for CKD. For example, a test known as eGFR is an estimate of the filtering capacity of the kidneys that takes into account serum creatinine concentration and other variables, such as your age, gender, and body size. If your medical evidence includes eGFR findings, they are very helpful in SSD’s evaluation of your claim. Likewise, any kidney or bone biopsy results are given weight by SSA in deciding your claim.
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What If My Kidney Disease Is Not in the Social Security Disability Listings?
Even if you do not have one of the CKD conditions shown in the SSD Listings, you may have another common genitourinary impairment which alone is disabling. Sometimes, you can win by showing a “combination of impairments” tied into your kidney disease that make you unable to work anymore. To name just a few, there is Renal Osteodystrophy which is bone degeneration resulting from chronic kidney disease; Peripheral Neuropathy is another disorder which can be considered disabling. This disorder happens because diseased kidneys do not adequately filter toxic substances in your blood. Thee toxins can affect nerve tissue, causing pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in various parts of the body. If your doctor says it has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months, it can lead to a favorable decision. There are many other conditions related to renal function which may qualify you for a disability check including fluid overload syndrome, edema, and anorexia from appetite loss.
Lastly, if your condition is not in the Listings, you may still have a winning case if your evidence shows a “combination of impairments” which disable you. You may also qualify under a different section of the Listings for other body systems. The listed disorders are only examples of common genitourinary disorders that we consider severe enough to prevent you from doing any gainful activity. If your impairment(s) does not meet the criteria of any of these listings, SSD will also consider whether you have an impairment(s) that satisfies the criteria of a listing in another body system.
Careful medical and legal analysis is needed to determine if your claim for CKD will be approved. Our attorneys would be glad to discuss the merits of your social security disability based on CKD claim or your physician or other interested party.
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