April 14, 2014

Kidney Failure and Social Security Disability Benefits in Indiana

If you suffer from kidney failure, also known as renal failure, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.  Kidney failure is recognized by the Social Security Administration in its Listing of Impairments under section 6.00 – Genitourinary Impairments.

Kidney failure is a medical condition in which the kidneys fail to filter the waste products from the blood.  There are two main types of kidney failure: acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease.  In acute kidney injury, the condition will develop over a short period of time – it can be as little as a few days in some cases.  Chronic kidney disease may take much longer to show signs and symptoms, as it takes much more time to develop.  In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have a condition that is expected to last at least twelve months or to end in death.

Signs and symptoms of kidney disease may include the following:

  • High levels of urea in the blood, which may result in:
    • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Blood in urine/nocturnal uniration/unusual amounts of urine
  • Buildup of phosphates in the blood, which may cause:
    • Itching
    • Bone damage
    • Muscle cramps
  • Buildup of potassium, which may result in:
    • Muscle paralysis
    • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Fluid-filled cysts on the kidneys, causing pain in the patient’s back or side
  • Low amounts of hemoglobin in the blood, which my result in:
    • Tiredness/weakness
    • Memory problems/difficulty concentrating

There are two listings for kidney failure in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.  These listings are summarized below; visit Social Security’s website here for the full text of these listings.

  • Section 6.02 – Impairment of renal function, due to any chronic renal disease that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.  To meet this listing, a claimant must be undergoing dialysis, have had a kidney transplant, or experience severe symptoms due to low kidney function.  These symptoms include bone pain from renal osteodystrophy, motor or sensory neuropathy, fluid overload syndrome, or anorexia with weight loss.
  • Section 6.06 – Nephrotic syndrome, with anasarca, persisting for at least 3 month despite prescribed therapy.  To meet this listing, the claimant’s medical records must include certain laboratory results supporting the diagnosis.

In my experience, the claimants who have the best chances of being found disabled are those who receive consistent medical treatment from specialists.  To meet the listing for kidney disorders, a claimant’s records must contain laboratory results and clinical findings to support their diagnoses.  These clinical findings are given the most weight by SSA adjudicators when they come from doctors who specialize in treating kidney disorders.  These doctors are familiar with kidney-related symptoms and their effects on a patient’s functioning.  It is also important to be able to show that the claimant is compliant with all of the treatment prescribed by his doctors.

The claims process for disability benefits can be a challenging and confusing process.  Many attorneys and claimant representatives offer a free consultation to evaluate your case.  Many claimants find it helpful to have an attorney or representative to help them with questions that may arise throughout the Social Security disability claims process.

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