Kidney Failure and Social Security Disability

If you have kidney failure and you expect to be out of work for at least 12 months or longer, then you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability

In order to get disability for kidney failure, you need to meet both the medical and work requirements outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

The SSA has disability programs for those who could work, but can no longer work anymore because of a disability like kidney failure. Here is some more information on how to get disability with kidney failure.

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney Failure is a complex disorder that affects every system in the body. It is also known as renal failure, and it occurs when the kidneys cannot properly filter the blood, resulting in increased levels of chemicals and toxins circulating through the body.

Symptoms vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals may barely feel the effects of kidney failure while other are too fatigued and sick to leave their beds.

Diagnosis is based upon analysis of an individual's GFR, or glomerular filtration rate, which refers to the speed at which the kidneys clean the blood.

A high GFR is good, but as kidney disease progresses an individual’s GFR will steadily decrease. GFR can easily be determined by a physician through simple blood test results compared against other information including age, sex, and body size.

Unfortunately, treatment options for kidney failure are somewhat limited. The preferred option is a kidney transplant. While a transplant offers the recipient a chance at a normal life, it also has the considerable life-time risk of rejection of the new kidney, which can potentially result in death.

The other option is dialysis. This is involves using a machine as an artificial kidney to filter the blood.

When an individual is on dialysis they will be required to be hooked up to this machine for hours at a time as many as seven days per week. This will obviously greatly impact the ability of these people to maintain any sort of employment.

Is Kidney Failure a Permanent Disability? 

Yes, kidney failure is a permanent disability. If you are unable to work because of kidney failure, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

 If you are going to be unable to work for at least a year, you can qualify for disability benefits. You may wonder if your disability will be permanent. Kidney failure can be a permanent disability depending on the severity of your kidney disease.

You will need to talk with your physician to determine if your disability will be permanent. Hard medical evidence that confirms your diagnosis and that details your symptoms, restrictions, treatment, side effects, and prognosis will be a necessity for a successful claim for disability benefits. You need to familiarize yourself with the stages of kidney failure and the treatment options.

Is Having One Kidney Considered a Disability? 

Yes, having one kidney can be considered a disability so long as you meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Blue Book listing which outlines the eligibility requirements for disability benefits for someone who only has one kidney.

Often times kidney failure can lead to someone having just one kidney and that could be considered a disability if it impacts your ability to work full time.

The Blue Book is a manual utilized by the SSA during their evaluation of people applying for disability benefits’ applications.

In other words, the Blue Book helps the SSA decide whether applications should be approved or denied to receive disability benefit payments.

Importantly, the Blue Book explains what medical evidence you need to provide to the SSA alongside your application in order to show that you qualify for disability benefits.

To qualify for disability benefits with one kidney, you will need to provide medical evidence that shows you cannot work for at least the next 12 months due to the fact that you only having one kidney.

This proof that you are unable to work could include showing that your hands or feet swell up, and/or you feel tired weak because your body is not getting enough clean blood to function properly, etc. 

Furthermore, if Diabetes is the reason why you lost one of your kidneys, you may be suffering from Diabetes and you can qualify under the diabetes listing.

Additionally, you will need to include any medical evidence that proves you meet the Blue Book listing for a victim of one kidney in your application. The SSA may ask to see any or all of the following medical documents of the effects of your kidney loss:

  • a formal doctor’s diagnosis with notes from a physical exam;
  • repeated and recent urinalysis results, which note serum creatinine and albumen;
  • imaging scans showing kidney or renal abnormalities;
  • renal biopsy results;
  • a statement from your doctor, describing the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.


Medical evidence is the key to any disability claim with kidney failure.

Can You Get Disability for Kidney Disease?

You can get disability for kidney disease. In order to get approved for disability with kidney disease, you need to meet the criteria established by the SSA for that condition. 

Since kidney disease often leads to kidney failure, you are able to get disability if your kidney disease has led to kidney failure.

The first thing you need in order to qualify for disability with kidney disease is to have earned enough work credits. 

SSDI benefits are for those who at one point could work, but now can no longer because of a disability like kidney disease.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. 

If you have worked in those jobs, you will have earned work credits. Work credits are calculated by your age and how long you have worked. 

You can earn up to four work credits per year that you have worked. In order to get disability for kidney disease, you need to meet the medical requirements outlined in the SSA’s Blue Book. 

The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability. There are multiple listings where kidney disease qualifies, such as chronic kidney disease.

 If you meet the medical requirements needed to meet one of the Blue Book listings and you will be out of work for at least 12 months, you may be able to qualify for disability with kidney disease. 

Medical evidence is the key to getting approved for disability with kidney disease, if you have all of your paperwork in order, it will improve your chances. 

The Blue Book will tell you what paperwork you need in order to get disability for kidney disease. It is important to note that providing sufficient and strong medical evidence is one of, if not, the most important signs your disability claim will be approved.

How to Medically Qualify for Disability with Kidney Failure

If a kidney specialist has diagnosed you with permanent kidney failure needing a kidney transplant or dialysis, the Social Security Administration has listings that can help simplify the process of getting disability benefits.

Section 6.00 of the disability impairment listing guide known as the “Blue Book” addresses all kidney function disorders and is used by state Disability Determination Services (DDS) to evaluate disability claims based on kidney failure. The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability.

Your claim will be reviewed under the listing for genitourinary impairments. These listings indicate a disability claim will be approved if you can show that any of the following apply:

  • There is a need for regular kidney dialysis.
  • There has been a kidney transplant.
  • There is reduced glomerular filtration combined with symptoms of kidney damage.
  • You suffer from nephrotic syndrome, OR
  • There are serious complications of kidney disease.


Listings 6.03, 6.04, and 6.05 grant disability benefits automatically for poor kidney functioning caused by any chronic disease just so long as one of the following are present:

  • Kidney transplantation
  • Ongoing peritoneal dialysis – dialyzing solution being put into and removed from the peritoneal cavity intermittently or continuously
  • Ongoing hemodialysis – removes toxins from the blood via artificial kidney machine OR
  • Reduced glomerular filtration


You can prove reduced glomerular filtration by providing test results that reveal low creatinine clearance levels, persistently high levels of serum creatinine, or a low estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

Many people that suffer from kidney failure will fit into several categories within this section. The keys to receiving Social Security Disability benefits for kidney failure are patience and complete medical records.

In addition to showing that you have reduced glomerular filtration, you must show that you suffer from one of the following – bone pain and renal bone degradation, peripheral neuropathy, or fluid overload syndrome despite taking prescribed medications.

Listing 6.06 for nephrotic syndrome covers a group of kidney diseases that are apparent because of excess protein in the urine and edema of differing levels.

The DDS will require a detailed history of your disorder including information on the treatment you are receiving and how your body is responding to those treatments.

Additionally, the Social Security Administration gives greater weight to a diagnosis and treatment plan from a medical specialist rather than a primary care physician.

Qualifying For Disability With Kidney Failure If You Don’t Meet The Criteria 

If you are unable to work because of kidney disease and you are unable to meet the criteria of a listing, you may qualify using a medical-vocational allowance.

This approach takes your medical conditions, symptoms and side effects, age, work history, transferrable skills, and educational background into consideration to determine what kind of work – if any – you can do.

A residual functional capacity (RFC) completed by your treating physician can be very helpful to your claim.

It should be detailed, explaining your restrictions and limitations, such as how much you can lift, how often you must reposition, how much you carry, if you can bend, lift, and reach, and how long you can stand without having to sit or rest. 

A detailed RFC can paint a clear picture of your abilities, and it can also help you win your claim for disability benefits.

As an example, if your poor kidney functioning causes you to suffer from fatigue, and severe edema in your lower legs and feet keeps you from standing long periods or from walking considerable distances.

Edema in your arms and hands may affect your ability to perform fine tasks, lift and carry items, or reach and grasp. 

A combination of these things along with your personal details, such as age, work history, and educational background, could help you win a disability claim based on a medical vocational allowance.

A disability attorney can help you get your supporting documentation and evidence together to support your disability claim. Remember, supporting documentation is a necessity for a disability claim approval for kidney failure.

Work With a Disability Lawyer With Your Kidney Failure Case

When you have been diagnosed with kidney failure, all of your time and energy should be spent on treatments and trying to feel your best. For most people it will become impossible to work full-time while combating this debilitating disorder.

Social Security Disability is designed to help these people financially survive during the course of their sickness and treatment. A disability lawyer will be able to tell you how much disability you can get.

Unfortunately, applying for disability benefits may require substantially more time and energy than a person may have while undergoing daily treatments for kidney failure.

In such cases, contacting a qualified disability lawyer or advocate may provide you with invaluable assistance with every step of the Social Security Disability application process. Take our free disability evaluation to see if you qualify for disability.

Common Questions for People Applying for Disability With Kidney Failure

Often times, people with kidney failure have questions regarding various aspects of applying and qualifying for disability with kidney failure Below are some of the common questions that people have regarding disability and kidney failure.

What Are The Stages Of Kidney Failure?

There are five stages of kidney failure. According to Nephcure Kidney International, 1 in 10 people worldwide have some kind of kidney disease.

A normal functioning kidney will filter anywhere from 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce 1 to 2 quarts of urine made up of extra fluid and waste. Kidneys help with blood pressure regulation, waste and water removal, red blood cell production, and help regulate growth in children.

There are five stages of kidney disease or kidney failure. The accepted measure for kidney functioning is Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR), and this determines how well your kidneys are cleaning your bloodstream.

To estimate GFR, a blood test is done to determine creatinine in blood, which is called serum creatinine. The levels of creatinine increase as functioning of the kidneys decreases.

  • Stage 1 – Kidney functioning is at more than 90 percent, meaning that you have normal or high functioning kidneys.
  • Stage 2 – At this stage, kidney functioning is from 60 to 89 percent and there is mildly decreased functioning of the kidneys.
  • Stage 3 – At this point, kidney functioning ranges from 30 to 59 percent of its normal level and you experience mild to moderately decreased functioning of the kidneys.
  • Stage 4 – You have severely decreased functioning with your kidneys at 15 to 29 percent.
  • Stage 5 – Kidney failure is in full force with kidney functioning now at less than 15 percent its normal level.

If your kidney failure causes you to be out of work for at least 12 months, you may qualify for disability benefits You should maintain thorough documentation detailing the severity of your condition.

Can you get Disability with Stage 3 Kidney Disease and Disability?

If you have Stage 3 kidney disease, you are able to get disability if you expect to be out of work for at least 12 months, and meet both the medical and work requirements in order to qualify for disability benefits with kidney disease.

 If you have stage 3 kidney disease, but you do not meet the medical requirements outlined by the SSA, there are a couple of ways you can still get disability benefits with stage 3 kidney disease.

Those with stage 3 kidney disease might have other health implications that the SSA might say are severe enough that you can no longer work. 

Common health complications that are a result of stage 3 kidney disease that could qualify you for disability are high blood pressure, anemia, and bone disease. 

Those conditions are all in the Blue Book, so if you don’t meet the listing for stage 3 kidney disease, you could qualify for disability for one of those conditions. If you do not meet any of the Blue Book listings, you may be able to qualify via a medical vocational allowance.

How Much Is a Disability Check with Kidney Failure Worth?

You can earn up to $3,627 per month in disability with kidney failure. Often though, the average disability payment in 2023 is $1,483. 

How much your disability with kidney failure will be worth depends on the specifics of your case and how long you have worked. A disability lawyer will be able to help you determine how much you can earn in disability with kidney failure.

Get Help Today

If you had kidney failure and you can no longer work because of it, you may want to apply for Social Security disability benefits.

The majority of initial claims get denied benefits, so it is recommended that you seek the counsel of a disability lawyer or disability advocate. A lawyer can help you make sure all of your paperwork is in order and can testify on your behalf in front of an ALJ. Disability lawyers do not charge upfront.

Take our Social Security Benefits Calculator to see how much you could earn in disability benefits.

They are only paid if you win your claim. Fill out the free case evaluation today to get help from a disability attorney.

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