Can I Work With Kidney Failure?

Do You Qualify? Find Out With A Free Disability Evaluation

  • Step 1. Case Info
  • Step 2. Case Info

If your kidneys have become severely damaged and are failing and this has impacted your ability to handle your daily activities as well as your ability to work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Kidney failure is considered under the genitourinary impairment listings.

These listings ensure approval for disability benefits for your condition if you have the need to undergo regular dialysis, have completed a kidney transplant, suffer from nephrotic syndrome, have reduced glomerular filtration combined with the symptoms of damage, or suffer from the serious complications resulting from kidney disease.

If your kidney failure has been treated, but you continue to suffer serious symptoms from the condition that make working impossible, you may be eligible to receive monthly disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Other symptoms you may experience include peripheral neuropathy which is the inability to filter toxic substances from your bloodstream or you can suffer from renal bone degradation and bone pain.

Even if you take medication, you may still suffer from fluid overload syndrome, massive swelling, vascular congestion, or diastolic hypertension; all of which can also impact your ability to function as well. You can consult the Blue Book to see if you medically qualify.

If you cannot work because of kidney failure, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

How Does Kidney Failure Impact Your Ability To Work?

Kidney failure can impact your life on many levels. You may not be able to participate in activities you enjoy, travel, or do your daily activities as well as find yourself unable to work.

While you may be able to arrange things like an altered work schedule to accommodate things like doctor's visits or dialysis, it may be difficult to get past the physical limitations of your condition

The profound pain suffered with kidney failure can make walking, lifting, carrying, grasping, or reaching impossible. Because of this, many work duties are eliminated because of your inability to perform the required tasks. The swelling and edema experienced from fluid overload syndrome can make walking impossible and require frequent repositioning that includes keeping your feet raised above heart level.

Without the ability to stand or sit long periods without repositioning, your ability to perform a multitude of work duties can be significantly impacted. Regular dialysis can impact your overall well-being and result in malaise and fatigue that makes working a regular shift virtually impossible even if you have a sedentary position. You may find yourself in a position where you are unable to groom yourself or even prepare your own meals because of the severity of the tiredness and the aches and pains you suffer.

Limitations for Specific Jobs

If you suffer from kidney failure, there are specific jobs that you will not even be able to attempt anymore. As an example, if you must undergo dialysis or you have recently had a kidney transplant, you won’t be able to work as a commercial vehicle driver because you won’t have access to the treatment you need when you need it and the frequent sitting can cause the swelling in your legs and feet to worsen significantly.

You will also no longer be able to work as an educator, policeman, or firefighter because of the need for dialysis and wearing a port, the risks of infection, the malaise, and the edema impacting your mobility.

Working in a factory or operating machinery such as saws is impossible if you are suffering from bone pain, severe swelling, and diastolic hypertension. Peripheral neuropathy will make moving your hands and arms unbearable, and the swelling and pain of the legs and feet will make standing or even sitting long periods unbearable so you can’t work on an assembly line or pack goods for shipping. You won’t be able to lift and carry boxed items, so you can’t work in a warehouse or as a stocker.

Because some jobs require a level of physical dexterity and endurance that can fade as a person gets older, it's very common for people over 50 to qualify based on their condition and the job that they were trained for. For example, if you're trying to qualify for benefits for ESRD after age 50, it's more likely that you'd qualify for benefits due to age as it's more difficult to be re-trained for another job at that age.

Applying for Disability Benefits

If you are now ready to apply for benefits, there are several different ways you can start the process. You can either visit your local SSA office and sit down to talk one-on-one with an employee who will help you step by step with the initial paperwork or you can call toll-free 1-800-772-1213 to talk with a representative over the phone and get the process underway. You can also visit the SSA website to start the application process.

The disability claims process can be time consuming and complicated. It can take months to be approved for benefits. You may find it beneficial to work with an advocate or an attorney, which can significantly improve your odds of being approved for benefits.

Additional Resources

Applying for Disability Benefits for Kidney Failure When Over Age 50
Kidney Transplant and Disability Benefits