March is National Kidney Disease Awareness Month, and our Houston Social Security lawyers want to share some information about this condition and how those who suffer from it may qualify for disability benefits.
What Is Kidney Disease?
The kidneys are two organs, each approximately the size of a fist, locate in the lower back. They help maintain the body’s overall health in many ways:
- Filter waste out of 200 liters of blood every day
- Regulate salt, potassium and acid in the body
- Remove drugs
- Balance fluids
- Release hormones that regulate blood pressure
- Control red blood cell production
- Produce vitamin D
Kidney disease is the loss of the organs’ ability to perform these functions. The disease often progresses slowly through five different stages. Unfortunately, symptoms of chronic kidney disease may not present until considerable damage has already been done.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the most common causes of chronic kidney disease, with other causes including:
- Immune system conditions
- Urinary tract infections
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Congenital defects
- Drugs and toxins
Treatment for chronic kidney disease focuses on slowing the damage to the kidneys by treating or controlling the underlying cause. When the disease progresses to end-stage kidney failure, it can be fatal without dialysis, which is the artificial filtering of the blood, or a kidney transplant.
More than 26 million Americans have kidney disease, although most don’t know it yet. Additionally, 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for it due to diabetes, high blood pressure or a family history of the illness. It is the 9th leading cause of death in the United States.
More than 95,000 people are awaiting kidney transplants, and more than 590,000 people are suffering from kidney failure.
Signs of kidney disease include:
- Changes in urine output
- Nausea and vomiting
- Swelling in feet and ankles
- Sleep issues
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
These symptoms can also be attributed to many other illnesses. Also, because the kidneys can often compensate for loss of function, these symptoms may not appear until considerable damage has been done.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits with Kidney Disease
The Social Security Administration categorizes kidney failure under its listings of disabilities for “genitourinary” impairments. To be eligible for benefits for kidney disease, the disease must have lasted or be expected to last for 12 continuous months. For those patients who are on dialysis for end-stage kidney failure or who need a kidney transplant, claims should be approved fairly easily.
However, because of the nature of the illness, many patients will be unable to work even before reaching these end-stages of the disease. Also, medications used to treat kidney infection can also cause significant side effects such as severe fatigue, high blood pressure and nausea, which make working even more difficult.
If this is the case, the SSA will consider your symptoms and how they impair your ability to work when making a determination for disability benefits. As a Houston Social Security disability attorney, M. Stanley Whitehead helps applicants demonstrate this during initial applications or if the claim is denied and an appeal is necessary. Contact her today for assistance.