Renal, or kidney, disease can be disabling but exists on a spectrum of severity. The Mayo Clinic simply defines chronic kidney disease as a gradual loss of kidney function; treatment may slow the progression of kidney damage but is not sure to stop it. Chronic kidney disease can worsen to become end-stage kidney failure, where dialysis or kidney transplant may be needed. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, among many other things.
Getting Social Security for Renal Disease
When the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates a claim for disability benefits for renal or kidney disease, they look at all of your impairments as documented by objective medical evidence and provide a five-step analysis. In any claim for disability benefits, you have to get past at least the first two steps of the analysis—that you are not earning substantial gainful activity from work income and that you have medically determinable impairments that have lasted or are expected to last at least 12 months and that more than minimally affect your ability to work. Once past that point, the severity of your renal disease and any resultant functional limitations are then considered in the following steps.
SSA has several listed impairments related to renal disease; if your chronic disease meets the requirements of one of these listings, you can be found disabled. These listings reflect things like chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis or kidney transplant, although some of the listings look instead at specific lab values to assess the severity of the disease.
Renal disease may not meet a listing but can still result in functional limitations that could prevent you from working in a wide variety of jobs. If listing severity is not met, SSA attempts to estimate how much you can still do and then uses testimony from an expert witness familiar with work data to decide whether you can do your past work or other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.
If you are so limited by your renal disease, or a combination of the renal disease and other impairments, such that you cannot work, then a finding of disability is appropriate. Still, this is a very difficult standard to meet and typically requires a good deal of objective medical evidence or even medical expert opinions to support that level of severity. It is usually going to be unlikely that renal disease by itself that is not severe enough to meet the requirements of a listed impairment would nonetheless be so severe as to prevent all work. Combined with the effects of other impairments, however, or in someone over the age of 50 where the types of jobs considered become more narrowed, then it is possible that you could receive disability benefits for less-than-listing-severity chronic kidney disease.
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