Kidney Disease and Disability Insurance: A Claimant’s Guide
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is much more common than you think. About 37 million people live with CKD, and many more cases are undiagnosed. Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States; every day, about 340 people start dialysis.
Many people assume they need to be in kidney failure before they qualify for long-term disability benefits. At Bryant Legal Group, we help people get the disability insurance benefits they deserve, even before they require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is the Difference Between Chronic Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure?
Did you know that every 30 minutes, your kidneys filter all of your blood? These organs play an essential role in your body, filtering out excess water, waste, minerals, and salts. Your kidneys keep your blood cells and bones healthy.
When you have chronic kidney disease, these organs do not work effectively, and waste and toxins may remain in your body. Kidney failure occurs when your kidneys are functioning at less than 15% of their normal capacity. While you can experience sudden, acute kidney failure, most people’s kidney disease is progressive.
Doctors categorize chronic kidney disease into five stages:
- Stage 1: Your kidneys are damaged but are still functioning normally. Many people with stage 1 kidney disease seem symptom-free.
- Stage 2: You are experiencing a mild loss of kidney function. Most people remain relatively symptom-free. You may notice some mild swelling in your legs and increased urinary tract infections. You also may have abnormal urine test results.
- Stage 3: You now have moderate loss of kidney function, and your symptoms are becoming more obvious. Many people start noticing pain, numbness, tingling, unexpected weight loss, and a feeling of being unwell.
- Stage 4: Your kidneys are functioning very poorly. You may experience anemia, decreased appetite, increasing pain, bone disease, and other symptoms. Your doctors will start preparing you for dialysis.
- Stage 5: Considered end-stage kidney disease, you will need dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive. You will likely experience pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and swelling throughout your body.
Because our kidneys are remarkably powerful and efficient (you can survive with one functioning kidney), many people don’t realize they have CKD until their disease is relatively severe.
What Is Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)?
Polycystic kidney disease is a form of chronic kidney disease. With this inherited medical condition, fluid-filled cysts grow in your kidneys. These cysts are different than simple kidney cysts.
Over time, PKD can change the shape of your kidneys and make it harder for them to function normally. About 500,000 people live with polycystic kidney disease in the United States, making it one of the most common genetic disorders.
Can I Get Disability Insurance Benefits for Stage 3 Kidney Disease?
Once you have end-stage kidney disease, you may automatically qualify for disability insurance benefits. For example, the Social Security Administration’s rules grant Social Security disability benefits to people who need dialysis, undergo a kidney transplant, or have very severe kidney disease symptoms. However, private disability insurance policies are different than Social Security, which is a federal benefit program.
Long-term disability benefits are either self-funded or an employee benefit. Your eligibility for benefits will depend on your specific policy’s terms and conditions. Typically, to prove that you are disabled, you’ll need to show that your medical conditions prevent you from doing your own occupation or any occupation, depending on your policy’s language. This will require strong evidence, including:
- Medical records that clearly document your chronic kidney disease symptoms and treatment
- Evidence from your employer and vocational experts about your work experience and transferable skills
- Information about your daily activities and how they’ve changed due to chronic renal disease
While some policies may automatically qualify you for LTD benefits when your kidney disease requires dialysis or a transplant, you may be eligible for benefits much earlier.
Stage 3 kidney disease can involve a variety of disabling symptoms, including:
- Bone pain
- Low blood cell counts
- Numbness or tingling
- Mental fogginess or concentration problems
- Malaise or a feeling of being unwell
Combined, these symptoms may make it impossible to work.
Should I Work With an Experienced Disability Insurance Lawyer?
Filing a short-term or long-term disability insurance claim requires attention to detail as well as extensive legal and medical knowledge. If you’re struggling with profound fatigue, the side effects of your treatment protocols, or an overwhelming dialysis program, it may be impossible to pursue long-term disability benefits on your own. When you hire a disability lawyer, they will take on this burden and let you focus on your health.
At Bryant Legal Group, we understand the complexities of renal disease claims. We help our clients explain and document their CKD-related issues long before they require hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.
If you’re considering your long-term disability options, we can help you build a plan. Our team helps people navigate their kidney disease-related insurance claims, ensuring that they meet strict filing deadlines, build strong evidentiary records, and don’t get taken advantage of by unscrupulous insurance companies.
Bryant Legal Group: Respected Disability Insurance Lawyers in Illinois
Bryant Legal Group is one of Illinois’ premier disability insurance law firms. We help people get the long-term disability insurance benefits that they deserve. If you need help understanding the terms and conditions of your employer-sponsored or private LTD policy, we’ll help you evaluate your plan’s documents and suggest practical next steps.
Chronic kidney disease basics. (2020, February 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/kidneydisease/basics.htm
What is polycystic kidney disease? (2017, January). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/polycystic-kidney-disease/what-is-pkd
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.