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Facts about Kidney Failure and Filing for Disability
These selected pages answer some of the most basic, but also some of the most important, questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim for disability benefits.
Facts about the condition
1. Dialysis is the process of artificially filtering waste and excess fluid from the blood stream. The kidneys normally perform this function, but in the event that these organs cannot function properly, dialysis is the treatment option.
2. Kidney failure, typically the result of a condition causing years of damage to the kidneys, leads to the need for dialysis once the kidneys are only functioning at 15 percent or less of normal. Dialysis may also be necessary if the kidneys fail suddenly, such as from an injury, major surgery or another acute health problem.
3. Dialysis serves to control blood pressure levels and to balance water, sodium, potassium, calcium and other minerals in the body. It is limited in that it cannot replace the kidneys' ability to produce endocrine hormones.
4. There are a variety of problems associated with those on dialysis, either from the treatment or the underlying disease causing kidney damage and loss of function. Low blood pressure, the most common side effect of dialysis, typically occurs among those with diabetes.
5. On the other hand, high blood pressure, the most common cause of kidney failure, may become worse if the individual does not change their lifestyle habits along with dialysis.
6. Muscle cramps, itching, anemia and difficulty sleeping are some of the more benign side effects. Build up of fluid (leading to heart failure or fluid in the lungs), inflammation around the heart, bone diseases, high potassium (sometimes causing the heart to stop), and infection are more serious health complications associated with dialysis.
7. In addition to the dialysis procedure, watching intake of fluids and minerals and taking prescribed medications are a necessary part of overall treatment for kidney failure. Dialysis is necessary until kidney transplant or death.
8. Those on dialysis have a shorter life expectancy, due to overall poor health from underlying disease, side effects from dialysis, and the fact that dialysis is not a perfect replacement for normal kidney function.
Qualifying for disability benefits with this condition
Whether or not you qualify for disability and, as a result, are approved for disability benefits will depend entirely on the information obtained from your medical records.
This includes whatever statements and treatment notes that may have been obtained from your treating physician (a doctor who has a history of treating your condition and is, therefore, qualified to comment as to your condition and prognosis). It also includes discharge summaries from hospital stays, reports of imaging studies (such as xrays, MRIs, and CT scans) and lab panels (i.e. bloodwork) as well as reports from physical therapy.
In many disability claims, it may also include the results of a report issued by an independent physician who examines you at the request of the Social Security Administration.
Qualifying for SSD or SSI benefits will also depend on the information obtained from your vocational, or work, history if you are an adult, or academic records if you are a minor-age child. In the case of adults, your work history information will allow a disability examiner (examiners make decisions at the initial claim and reconsideration appeal levels, but not at the hearing level where a judges decides the outcome of the case) to A) classify your past work, B) determine the physical and mental demands of your past work, C) decide if you can go back to a past job, and D) whether or not you have the ability to switch to some type of other work.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the social security administration does not award benefits based on simply having a condition, but, instead, will base an approval or denial on the extent to which a condition causes functional limitations. Functional limitations can be great enough to make work activity not possible (or, for a child, make it impossible to engage in age-appropriate activities).
Why are so many disability cases lost at the disability application and reconsideration appeal levels?
There are several reasons but here are just two:
1) Social Security makes no attempt to obtain a statement from a claimant's treating physician. By contrast, at the hearing level, a claimant's disability attorney or disability representative will generally obtain and present this type of statement to a judge.
Note: it is not enough for a doctor to simply state that their patient is disabled. To satisy Social Security's requirements, the physician must list in what ways and to what extent the individual is functionally limited. For this reason, many representatives and attorneys request that the physician fill out and sign a specialized medical source statement that captures the correct information. Solid Supporting statements from physicians easily make the difference between winning or losing a disability case at the hearing level.
2) Prior to the hearing level, a claimant will not have the opportunity to explain how their condition limits them, nor will their attorney or representative have the opportunity to make a presentation based on the evidence of the case. This is because at the initial levels of the disability system, a disability examiner decides the case without meeting the claimant. The examiner may contact the claimant to gather information on activities of daily living and with regard to medical treatment or past jobs, but usually nothing more. At the hearing level, however, presenting an argument for approval based on medical evidence that has been obtained and submitted is exactly what happens.
Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center
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More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers
Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI
Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
The SSI Disability Benefits Program
Medical exams for disability claims
Applying for Disability in various states
Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs
Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews
Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children
Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative
What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials
Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney
Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits
FAQ on Disability Claim Representation
Disability hearings before Judges
Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers
Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits
Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability
Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children
Disability Benefits through Social Security
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records
Filing your claim for disability benefits
Eligibility for receiving disability benefits
Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved
FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions
The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration
Resources on this site
Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions
Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI
About the Author of SSDRC, Tim Moore
For Individuals living in North Carolina
Applying for Disability in North Carolina
North Carolina Disability Lawyer
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Nephropathy and Filing for Disability
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Polycystic Kidney Disease and Filing for Disability
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Disability requirements and criteria in California
These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it