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  • Should I consider taking disability?

    Since my "employer from hell" decided to let me go last May, I've had the worst luck finding steady work. I took one job, only to find out after a month that they expected me to be the pack-mule of the office (I'm 53, 6'2" and 158 lbs, so I'm not really built for abuse anymore..), so that didn't last. Took another position in a place well below my qualifications, only to find that I was expected to be on my feet for 10+ hours a shift, so THAT didn't work out, either. I suspect that my previous employer is telling people that my kidneys are about gone, because I've never had this kind of problem even getting interviews before. So, here I am, at age 53, still in relatively good health, and unable to find a job.

    One option I DO have is this; I can force my kidneys into final failure, and suddenly qualify for disability. I figure a good pot of my favorite chili recipe, eaten for 2 days right before taking my monthly blood test would probably push me just enough over the edge so that my potassium level will finally be too high, and I will start dialysis. From that day, I can qualify for SS disability, and sit on my fat-@$$ and pull in roughly the same amount that unemployment currently pays me (but will only pay for a few more weeks). It doesn't seem like much of an existence, but it's better than total financial ruin.

    It's ironic, considering how healthy I am otherwise, to consider making myself legally a cripple, only because nobody will hire me. Yet it looks like it may be my only choice. I don't know what to expect if I do declare myself to be disabled, nor whether I will ever get myself OUT of being disabled. I'm tired, mad, and scared, and thoroughly disgusted with my entire lot in life right now. What will happen to me?

    Any suggestions or advice?

  • #2
    I believe since you are under GFR 10 ( I think you wrote you were at GFR 8) that your doctor should have already been able to put you on disability and therefore be there already. Have you asked your doctor for help? Also, Job and Family services can evaluate you (since you can not get a job and will lose everything) and help you to get on disability, too. Hope this helps.


    • #3
      FWIW, my last GFR was 6/7 (caucasian/black). My nephrologist is more worried about my potassium levels than anything else.


      • #4
        Joining the ranks of "Disability Nation" given your capabilities, viable health status and age, is not an action I would enjoy supporting. Scratching out an existence on SSI Disability holds little, if any promise - short term or long.

        There are many examples of individuals whose vitality and stamina had been sapped by kidney disease, who after starting dialysis got enough energy and drive back to return to work or in cases like mine, continue to work without any lost time. Starting dialysis while you still have reasonably good physical health may give you back the capability to "put in the hours" and then move to a less physically demanding role.

        Ask your nephrologist what health benefits dialysis could deliver for you. Unfortunately, you won't know how you will respond to the therapy until you start, and then there is no turning back.

        Paying for dialysis without medical insurance becomes a bankrupcy risk. You will not qualify for Medicare until you have been on dialysis for three months. COBRA benefits from your current employer's medical insurance would cover that period of time. HHD training qualifies for the start of Medicare the first day of the first month that HHD training begins. If you can remain employed while you begin dialysis, you'd probably be a good deal better off financially and psychologically.


        • #5
          Remembering my mother's dialysis gives me a bit of a baseline, but then, she was blindsided by her kidney failure, and started dialysis only after a 2 week stay in the ICU, after nearly dying. Her energy DID come back, but other complications gave her many problems (osteoporosis and cataracts where both direct complications), so I am assuming that pre vs. post dialysis will be about the same, all in all.

          I have kept my COBRA insurance going, but it is a high-deductible plan. Home hemo is out of the question.

          I have a 'nibble' with an interview tomorrow, but even there, I'll be 90 days before I could join that health policy, IF I get hired.


          • #6
            dac0214 - also if you start dialysis after you meet your deductable, the insurance would pay for the first three months of in center. The problem with that is you have to meet your deductable for the year and it is already November. I never had to pay because I had already met the deductable for that year and the doctor had me start in October giving me that opportunity not to have to pay. Then this year, I met that out of pocket before Feb. was over. (I budged the deductable into finances so it would not hurt) I too have PKD and although I am not working like Stumpr54, I am very active and keep very busy with craft projects, grandkids who make me feel needed along with familly who expect me to have the same Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter I normally did(traditional foods), and going places to keep me from getting cabin fever of the house and dialysis center. Even on dialysis I have gone on two week long vacations and visits to Indiana to see my other son and family. If I was younger like you two guys, I would still be teaching. Actaully my nerph kept me working another three years before I retired. I was very sick for the two years between retirement and when I started dialysis. Now I am doing pretty good. No heart problems and osteopedica diagnosis is only because I have not broken any bones. I can handle all that. I am healthy accept for that diagnosis and the kidney's. Hope you fine solutions and not focus so much on what your mom went through. My mom also was on dialysis about 12 years ago and my nephrologist told me things are so different now than ten years ago and I would do fine.


            • #7
              Hey I am new to this site and I have had a lot of issues and problems since starting PD. they are unable to figure out what soulution I need to be on. right now I have tried doing 1 exchange every other day and that still isn't working. I felt great today, until we did my exchange and within an hour my ankles and toes started hurting so we had to take it out after 2.5 hours and now my feet are really swollen again. this is very frustrating to me as I was told that I would feel much better on this.


              • #8
                I'm working on a couple of "possibilities" right now, one of which will require not only a drug test, but also a physical, as well. I'm not certain just how in-depth such a 'physical' would be, but I suspect that a real doctor, if he wanted to, could tell fairly quickly that my health situation is at best tenuous. I'm not certain what I could do, short of being deceitful in my answers to health questions. And, frankly, working in manufacturing, I fail to see how they can even justify requiring a physical exam for employment.


                • #9
                  Well, things are looking up: I got hired. The job is a decent distance away (and, with an 18 year old car, I'm not sure if that's going to become a problem), but at least the pay is decent, the overtime hours are available, and they'll allow me to join on the company insurance at the beginning of February. Here's hoping this place works out....


                  • #10
                    That's awesome news about the job, and the insurance dac0214!


                    • #11
                      Such great news! Keep us posted!


                      • #12
                        Right now I am in a precarious position when it comes to applying for disability. I have just signed on to the paired exchange list which means I likely will get a new kidney this calendar year. And disability normally goes away 12 months after the date of the transplant. So I could be without a job at that time and not have insurance (I know I would qualify for Medicare, but even that costs $105 a month and then only covers 80% anyway) so I am toughing it out.


                        • #13
                          Unfortunately, I wasn't able to "work at the level they expected", and was let go after only 6 weeks. Still broke from my long period of un/under employment, so I can't afford COBRA. GFR is now down to 5, and I've been down to the local DSS office, and registered for MedicAid, to hold me over at least until I start HD, and get on MediCare. Disability SHOULD be nearly automatic, but even at almost $400/week, that doesn't amount to much. Unfortunately, it's better than ANY offers I've had recently (which are invariably the type where you are on your feet 8-10 hours a day, and have to be able to lift 75 lbs regularly..).

                          At this point, I can only hope that going onto dialysis right now, while indigent, isn't going to make me bankrupt too quickly. With any luck, I hope to be able to get back at least SOME of the energy that I've been lacking recently, and perhaps add some muscle mass back. THEN, maybe I'll be able to get enough work to get myself out from the disability hole....


                          • #14
                            Hello dac0214,

                            I admire your "warrior" approach - endeavoring to persevere work and daily life with a GFR of 5. I have had the energy needed to sustain active play and work lives only through an HHD modality, which delivers upwards of 23 hours of dialysis weekly through combined nocturnal and daily treatments. I was still physically healthy at a GFR of 9 when I started HHD training. I was able to support HHD training with partial days of vacation, effectively not missing a step.

                            The path you have taken by circumstance has been a very difficult one marked by a domino effect of economic hardship and declining health. You've always known your options, and seem to have chosen wisely. I am discouraged that it has come to this - up against a wall of despair. I'm confident that dialysis will improve your health and provide the drive and capabilities needed for gainful employment. I'm concerned that the toll yet to be taken, may drag you from the workforce permanently, like it has so many other ESRD patients.

                            Not that it can offer any answers to your immediate challenges, I suggest taking the roughly 30 minutes to view a DaVita Google + Hangout that I participated in during mid February, with the topic, "Working On Dialysis". It may provide you will some answers regarding the near future. Here's the Google+ link:


                            • #15
                              Thanks for your concern. Frankly, if I had the energy, I just might "go postal", so maybe it's best that I don't. My last bloodwork is showing that I am VERY anemic (hematocrit levels were very low), which probably explains why I have almost no energy, even after sleeping 10 hours a night. For somebody who used to cycle centuries and cross-country ski all winter long, it's frustrating to get to the point where just walking to the supermarket gets you winded. I used to be a muscular 235 lbs, and today, I'm less than 160 lbs. In the last year, I've only cycled further than 1 mile twice, and skied only once, for 1/2 an hour, which left me exhausted.

                              I've talked with my nephrologist, and we both agree that I need to start dialysis in the next couple of weeks. As I mentioned, I am now on MedicAid, and will be filling out the paperwork for SSI disability just as soon as I start dialysis. Hopefully, I'll either be able to add enough part-time work to supplement my SSI to be able to survive. Maybe I'll even get back to full-time work? I doubt I'll ever be back into the sort of manual labor I used to do when younger, but I hope to at least manage to build back some of the muscle that I've lost.

                              From what I've learned about SSI is this: As long as you don't make more than $200 and something a week, you can work part-time while receiving SSI. Every $2 you earn outside will result in $1 less SSI, so there is incentive to work at least some, while on SSI.

                              BTW, I was wondering how to handle my unemployment during the transition period between unemployment insurance and SSI insurance? Can I legally say that I was "available for work" on a day that I take dialysis, provided that I'm not admitted to the hospital? Will SSI take over the day that UI ends, or will I get "hung out to dry" for days or weeks at a time? Also, between Medicare and MedicAid, just how much money is this likely to cost me?
                              Last edited by dac0214; 03-30-2015, 11:05 AM.


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