Kidney dialysis can be exhausting — from repeated hospital visits to the financial difficulties it causes, dialysis and related kidney problems can be a struggle to cope with.
Fortunately, the U.S. government recognizes the strain of dialysis and may be able to help. If you rely on dialysis to live, it may be in your best interest to apply for disability benefits. Social Security benefits were created to help people in need, and your case may just be the next to qualify.
Step One: Determine how much your kidney dialysis limits you.
Before starting the application, it is important to assess and document your situation to determine all the ways your life is affected by your dialysis. This will help the Social Security Administration (SSA) better understand your circumstances later on in the process.
For example, most people are on kidney dialysis because of chronic kidney disease, or CKD. This disease can cause many adverse symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or swelling of the extremities. People who experience these symptoms may have a difficult time living their normal lives; they may have difficulty with everything from working to cooking to using the restroom.
Dialysis also causes logistic problems — for instance, is your dialysis done at home or in a hospital? Does someone need to take you to regular appointments? Does the dialysis itself cause any physical or mental strain?
The more your dialysis limits you, the more likely you are to qualify for full and expedient disability benefits.
Step Two: Consult the Blue Book and retrieve test results to demonstrate your disability.
To qualify medically for disability benefits, applicants must be considered “totally and permanently disabled.” This term is used by the SSA to describe people whose severe physical or mental disorder is expected to a) last longer than one year, or b) result in death. To determine this, the SSA compares all applicants to the “Blue Book,” which contains a list of all Social Security-approved disorders.
Dialysis is listed under Section 6: “Genitourinary Disorders - Adult” under subsection 6.03: “Chronic kidney disease.” In order to qualify, applicants must have a diagnosis of CKD and receive regular hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis. This dialysis must have lasted or be expected to last for a period of at least 12 months in order to qualify. Because the SSA recognizes the various ways dialysis changes a person’s life, it is extremely uncommon for someone on dialysis not to qualify medically.
It is also important to include medical documentation not just from the time your dialysis started, but from the time your kidney troubles began. Certain people qualify for disability benefits without having dialysis, so you may be eligible to receive retroactive payments for the entire period prior to dialysis during which you qualified.
Step Three: Gather paperwork and prepare to fill out the application.
Applicants are also required to provide work history and tax information when applying for benefits. This information is used by the SSA to determine a) how much money in taxes you have contributed to Social Security in the past, b) how your condition has affected your ability to work, and c) what program(s) you may qualify for. For instance, a person with enough “credits” (taxes given to the SSA) may be better suited for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), while a person with no work history may be better suited for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
When preparing for the application, be sure to include every piece of paperwork you have on hand that can further explain your circumstances to the SSA. This includes all medical documents, physicians’ notes, hospitalization history, medication lists, bank statements, pay stubs, coworker/boss testimonies, and all other general info. You never know what info the SSA will need, so it is best to include as much as possible in your application.
Contacting a Social Security Attorney
If you are considering filing for disability benefits, you may also want to consider speaking with a disability attorney. They can help when filling out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary.
Before starting your application, consider speaking with a disability attorney today for help getting the monthly benefits you deserve.