Kidney diseases in children range from mild, treatable disorders to acute and sometimes life-threatening conditions. Renal disease can be ongoing and progressive (called chronic kidney disease, or CKD). Some of the most common types of kidney diseases in children are present at birth and include:
Many children suffering from chronic kidney disease can qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Children with debilitating CKD who meet the financial requirements can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.
The symptoms children experience will vary depending on the cause and type of kidney disease. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include any of the following:
Kidney disease in children can be the result of:
To be eligible for SSI, children must meet Social Security's medical requirements, and their parents must have limited income and resources (assets). Learn more about how a child qualifies financially for SSI.
Once the income and asset requirements are met, the child must meet Social Security's definition of disabled. There are two ways a child with kidney problems can do that:
The listing for chronic kidney disease found in Section 106 (Genitourinary Disorders) of the listings sets forth the medical requirements that must be met for your child's condition to be considered disabling. Social Security will automatically approve disability benefits for a child who meets the requirements of any of the following seven conditions due to kidney disease:
To determine that your child meets the requirements of the listing, Social Security will need to see compelling medical evidence, including:
If there's not enough medical evidence to make a determination, Social Security might send your child for a consultative examination (CE). An independent doctor hired by the SSA would conduct your child's CE at no cost to you.
Even if your child's condition isn't severe enough to match one of the listings for CKD, Social Security might still approve disability benefits if your child has significant functional limitations due to kidney disease—this is called "functionally equaling the listings."
To get SSI this way, you must be able to show that your child has either "marked" limitations in two out of six areas of functioning or an extreme limitation in one area of functioning. A marked limitation means your child's ability to start, sustain, or finish activities independently is seriously limited. An extreme limitation means that your child's abilities are very seriously limited.
Social Security evaluates the following six areas (called "domains") of functioning:
Because kidney disease can cause learning delays and concentration difficulties, you might be able to prove limitations in the first two domains of functioning: learning and using information and paying attention to and finishing tasks. School records and teacher reports, in addition to medical records, are helpful evidence to support these limitations.
In addition, because kidney disease can cause severe headaches and nausea and can result in repeated hospitalizations, your child's health and physical well-being might also be seriously compromised. Hospital records and school attendance records can help prove the extent of your child's limitations in this domain of functioning.
Lastly, kidney disease can cause growth delays. Such delays might limit your child's ability to move about and manipulate objects or engage in appropriate self-care, compared to peers of the same age. It's also possible for a combination of these conditions to impact your child's functioning in the various domains.
In addition, your child's condition must have lasted (or be expected to last) at least one year or for the rest of the child's life.
Learn more about how to prove your child has marked or extreme limitations in functioning.
Applying for SSI benefits for a child is a two-step process:
The simplest way to notify Social Security that you want to file a child's application is to complete an online notification form. You can also call Social Security's national office at 800-772-1213. Or you can begin your child's SSI application online by completing the online child disability report.
Once you've notified Social Security of your intent to file an SSI disability application for your child, the SSA will contact you to schedule an interview. The sooner you notify Social Security of your intent to apply for SSI for your child, the sooner your child's benefits can begin. Learn how long it takes to get benefits after Social Security approves your child's SSI.
Updated November 28, 2023