Kidney failure, also known as renal failure or renal insufficiency, is exactly what its name implies: a medical condition characterized by the kidneys’ failure to perform as they’re supposed to. Our kidneys are designed to filter out waste and toxins from our blood. Those with kidney failure become highly susceptible to many types of illness and disease because of their kidneys’ failure to remove toxins from the blood stream.
There are two basic types of kidney failure. They are:
- Chronic kidney disease - This often develops slowly, and often goes undetected in its early stages.
- Acute kidney injury - Symptoms of acute kidney injury include a significant decrease in the amount of urine produced and imbalances in bodily fluids and electrolytes. This form of kidney failure typically requires dialysis.
It is possible to have both types of kidney failure at the same time. This is referred to as acute on chronic kidney failure.
Kidney failure can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the type and severity you are dealing with. Some of the more common symptoms include cramping, abnormal heartbeat, paralysis of the muscles, swelling (especially legs, face, feet, and hands), back pain, side pain, nausea, vomiting, involuntary weight loss, frequent urination (especially at night), difficulty urinating, unusually colored urine (pale or dark), blood in the urine, bone damage, dizziness, memory loss, difficulties with concentration, low blood pressure, and itching.
How Kidney Failure Affects Your Physical Capacity for Work
Most people who have kidney failure will not be able to perform any kind of physical work. This is in large part due to their need for dialysis. Those in the later stages of kidney failure are generally unable to travel from their homes or medical facility long enough to perform any kind of work. Those who have received kidney transplants should also avoid physical work for the first year after their transplant.
How Kidney Failure Affects Your Mental Capacity for Work
Some people with kidney failure will experience significant hindrances to their mental capacity for work; others will experience few or no mental hindrances. The degree to which your mental capacity to work is affected will largely depend on which symptoms you are experiencing. Those who have difficulty concentrating or who are experiencing significant memory loss have significantly diminished mental capacities.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Based on Kidney Failure and its Effect on Work Capacity
The Social Security Administration (SSA) lists kidney failure in their Blue Book, setting out specific guidelines to be used in determining whether you qualify for disability benefits based on kidney failure.
If you have received a kidney transplant, you will automatically be approved for benefits for one year following the date of the transplant, after which your case will be reviewed periodically. If you are on regular, ongoing dialysis treatment or need regular and ongoing removal of toxins from your blood by an artificial kidney, you will qualify for benefits. You will also qualify if your creatinine levels fall outside of accepted boundaries.
As with most disabling conditions, you will need to show that you have been undergoing medical treatment and that you have complied with the treatments which have been prescribed to you. Because of this, it is very important that you continue seeing your doctor while you are applying for disability benefits. If you lack insurance and are unable to afford to continue seeing your doctor, seek medical treatment at a free or reduced cost health clinic in your area.
If your kidney failure does not fall within the Blue Book’s guidelines, you may still qualify for disability benefits. The SSA will consider all of your symptoms and their effects on your ability to maintain gainful employment. If they find that the total of your disabilities (kidney failure related and otherwise) cause you to be disabled to the point that you cannot reasonably be expected to perform any available work for which you qualify, your claim will be approved. Many disability claimants find that a Social Security lawyer is invaluable in helping them put together evidence of the severity of their kidney failure.
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