While dialysis doesn’t automatically qualify for disability, you can get monthly benefits and healthcare if your dialysis interferes with your ability to work. In 2021, the Social Security Administration (SSA) approved 155,702 workers for genitourinary diseases, some of which involve dialysis.
To help you qualify, we’ll explain how the SSA defines dialysis, when it can qualify for benefits, and how to apply for disability to help with your dialysis.
Is receiving dialysis a disability?
Yes! According to the SSA, receiving dialysis qualifies as a disability if it makes it impossible for you to work, including when it’s a treatment for another qualifying condition like kidney disease.
The SSA does define receiving dialysis as a qualifying disability on its own because most people on dialysis need treatment three times per week for four hours at a time, which can make it impossible to hold a job.
How the SSA defines dialysis
Dialysis is a treatment for kidney failure. During dialysis, a machine filters out toxins and other waste from the blood because the kidneys aren’t strong enough to do so.
Dialysis is also a common treatment for other qualifying diseases. Kidney disease, chronic kidney disease, and end-stage renal disease all require dialysis and can qualify for disability.
There are several types of dialysis. Though they all filter the blood, they do so through different mechanisms. The most common types of dialysis are:
Continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis
Can you get disability for dialysis?
If you are currently receiving dialysis, it's possible to qualify for disability benefits. While the SSA does award benefits for dialysis alone, it may be easier to qualify if you have an accompanying condition, like kidney disease.
Otherwise, you’ll have to prove that your dialysis meets the SSA’s criteria before you can qualify for disability. You can also increase your odds of approval by working with a disability lawyer.
Criteria for getting disability with dialysis
On its own, dialysis can disrupt your daily life. When it accompanies a condition like kidney disease, it can be even more debilitating. If you are applying for disability benefits based on dialysis treatment, you’ll still have to prove that your dialysis makes it impossible for you to hold a job.
Here are some criteria that may improve your chances of approval when applying for disability benefits due to dialysis treatment:
You have kidney/renal failure. Dialysis always qualifies for benefits if it’s a treatment for kidney/renal failure.
You have another qualifying condition. Dialysis often accompanies conditions like kidney disease. If you get dialysis because of kidney disease and you had a kidney transplant in the last year, you can automatically qualify for disability.
Your dialysis is ongoing. Dialysis usually qualifies for disability, but the SSA will often evaluate how long you’ve been receiving it. You’re more likely to qualify if your dialysis has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.
You need dialysis during the day. If you need dialysis multiple times a week, and you need it during the day, you can likely qualify for disability because your dialysis will require long periods away from work.
Questions to ask yourself before applying
If you answer yes to most of the following questions, you may qualify for disability:
Does dialysis interfere with my ability to do work during the day?
Do I miss work often for dialysis?
Will I need dialysis for the next year or more?
Do I have another condition that requires dialysis?
My dialysis meets the criteria. Now what?
If your dialysis meets the SSA criteria, you’re ready to apply for disability benefits. You can apply even if you’re unsure you’ll get approved, but the application is long and may only be worth it if you’re likely to get approved.
Apply now if:
You are on dialysis for renal failure OR
You had a kidney transplant in the last year OR
You have another qualifying condition like kidney disease, chronic kidney disease, or end-stage renal disease
Consider waiting and applying later if:
You’re receiving dialysis but your doctor is hopeful you’ll be off dialysis within a year OR
Your dialysis hasn’t interfered with your work, even if you worry that it will soon
Probably don’t apply if:
Your dialysis isn’t stopping you from working even though it’s inconvenient OR
You’re working and earning more than about $1,400 per month
Our free 2-minute disability quiz can also help determine whether or not you qualify before you apply. If you do qualify, we can connect you with a vetted disability lawyer, which can increase your odds of approval. (You’ll only pay your lawyer if you get approved for disability benefits.)
Both programs share the same application, so you can apply for both to see which program will offer the best benefits for your situation. It’s also possible to qualify for SSDI and SSI at the same time.
How much is a disability check for dialysis?
The SSA doesn’t publish payment amounts specifically for people receiving dialysis, but the average disability check for related genitourinary diseases is $1,444.42 per month. Your actual check size will vary based on the type of benefits you qualify for, as well as your work and income history. The maximum benefit for SSDI is about $3,600 and for SSI it’s $914 in 2023.
What if my dialysis doesn’t meet the criteria?
You can apply even if your dialysis doesn’t meet all the criteria. It may still be worth applying as long as your dialysis makes it impossible for you to maintain your job.
Unless you have another condition that the SSA will automatically approve, qualifying for disability is challenging. Keep in mind that only 20% of applicants get approved on their initial application. But we almost always recommend that you appeal your case if you receive a denial, and half of the applicants who appeal their case (and end up in front of a judge) get approved.
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