Getting Social Security Benefits for Kidney Disease and Dialysis

Getting Social Security for kidney disease or dialysis.Dialysis is required when your kidneys stop working. When functioning properly, kidneys remove waste from your bloods. Dialysis is needed when your kidneys are no longer doing this. Dialysis machines essentially work as an artificial kidney, filtering waste out of your blood for you. This artificial process is called hemodialysis. Hemodialysis is very time consuming – requiring sessions hooked up to a dialysis machine for hours at a time, several days per week.

Dialysis Can Automatically Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

When dialysis is needed to treat chronic kidney disease, it automatically meets the qualifications for disability, as long as the dialysis has lasted or can be expected to last for 12 months or longer. For acute kidney failure, where the normal functioning of the kidneys returns and dialysis is no longer needed, the temporary need for dialysis will not lead to a finding of disability. However, with stage 5 chronic kidney disease, where the need for dialysis is ongoing, then the requirements of Listing 6.03 for Chronic kidney disease is met and disability should be approved. Pursuant to this listing, Social Security judges will usually grant disability benefits back to the date of the diagnosis of stage 5 chronic kidney disease, rather than the date where dialysis actually begins.

Although by definition chronic kidney disease is disabling when it reaches stage 5 due to the need for dialysis, it is possible to meet another listing for chronic kidney disease prior to reaching stage 5. Chronic kidney disease can be disabling at any point where certain substances are present in your blood work. If your serum creatinine is measured at 4 mg/dL or greater, or creatinine clearance is measured at 20 ml/min. or less, or estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) is measured at 20 ml/min/1.73m2 or less, then you could meet Listing 6.05. Evaluating this listing is technical and requires an in-depth look at your bloodwork results in your medical records.

A Social Security Attorney Can Help You Get Approved for Disability Benefits

Getting approved for disability based on kidney disease diagnosis is nuanced and requires an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. In our experience, Social Security will often focus on the date when chronic kidney disease becomes stage 5, requiring dialysis, and meets listing 6.03 while ignoring the possibility that bloodwork at a prior date may allow them to make a finding of disability by meeting listing 6.05.

In fact, we have learned that some Social Security judges simply don’t understand Listing 6.05. This is one of the main reasons to hire an attorney to represent you in a chronic kidney disease case. Ignoring the bloodwork prior to the start of dialysis can lead to improperly denying benefits for many additional months where back pay should have been awarded. If you have been diagnosed with kidney disease and have questions about getting on disability, reach out to our attorneys today for a free consultation.

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller
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