Social Security Disability with End-Stage Renal Disease

Posted January 12, 2018 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

End Stage Renal Disease

End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), or kidney failure, is an irreversible condition most often caused by Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), though it can occur suddenly or from other disorders. The National Institutes of Health estimates that over 26 million people have CKD, and many don’t realize until the damage to the kidneys is severe. According to the latest U.S. Renal Data System Annual Report, ESRD affects over 660,000 Americans of all ages.

The United States Renal Data System also found that Medicare spent over $500 billion on kidney disease, making it one of the most expensive disorders. On ESRD alone, Medicare spends $32 billion annually, along with an estimated additional $15 billion for non-Medicare patients.

Because ESRD puts a whole organ out of commission, the treatments are very costly. Most of the costs are from inpatient and outpatient medical care. Individuals waiting for a kidney transplant must often undergo dialysis. The National Kidney Foundation found that dialysis costs $83,000 each year for the average patient. When a kidney becomes available, the transplant will cost over $30,000.

Because the condition requires so much time at the hospital, ESRD is a leading cause of lost productivity. Dialysis requires three days a week for about four hours, which puts a toll on those trying to work, both on their physical abilities and available time.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has several Adult Listings regarding CKD and ESRD. If you are out of work or earning less than SSA’s current substantial gainful activity amount, and if you meet or equal one of these listings, you will be found disabled. However, even if your CKD does not meet or equal any of the listings, you can be approved another way. The SSA may also award benefits based on a medical-vocational allowance.

To determine whether or not you can work, the SSA will determine your maximum Residual Functioning Capacity (RFC). The examiner takes into account your limitations, education level, and work history to first put you in a category of work (sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy), and then find jobs you’re qualified for with your work history. If the SSA can’t find a job you can do or decides you can’t even do sedentary work, you may be approved for benefits.

ESRD is a permanent and very debilitating condition, so it can cause many limitations that would keep you out of work. The National Kidney Foundation reported that CKD patients had an average of 10 doctors’ visits a year, second to only cancer. Additionally, dialysis patients need to spend at least 12 hours a week in the hospital for their necessary treatments. Fatigue, mental confusion, sleep problems, and chest pain can make normal tasks hard to complete. Bone pain, swelling of the lower extremities, and impaired motor skills can make it hard to walk, stand, and perform fine movements.

If you or someone you know is unable to work due to a medical condition, please contact us for a free case evaluation.

CKD Listings:
SSA Publication on ESRD:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®