Nephrotic Syndrome Can Lead to Social Security Disability
Damage to the kidneys can cause nephrotic syndrome. An individual with nephrotic syndrome has elevated protein levels in their urine, as well as increased swelling in their body tissues. If nephrotic syndrome is not treated, the kidneys can fail. Symptoms High levels of protein in the urine is a common sign of nephrotic syndrome. This is visible to an individual if their urine is foamy. If an individual loses protein in their urine, their blood protein level is reduced and swelling will occur, “particularly around the eyes and in the ankle and feet.” When the body retains fluid like this, weight gain sets in. Causes “Nephrotic syndrome is usually caused by damage to the clusters of tiny blood vessels (glomeruli) of the kidneys. The glomeruli filter your blood as it passes through your kidneys, separating things your body needs from those it doesn't.” There are a number of diseases or conditions that can cause damage to the kidneys. Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, malaria, lupus, and cancer can damage the kidneys and cause thickening of the glomeruli membranes known as membranous nephropathy. Diabetes can cause damage as well. Amyloidosis is where amyloid proteins build up in a person's organs. If this occurs in the kidneys, the proteins will damage the kidneys' filtering ability. The most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in children is minimal change disease. “This disorder results in abnormal kidney function.” Diagnosis The first test a doctor will perform is a urine test to determine if there are high protein levels. In order to get an accurate measure of urine protein levels, a person may be asked to collect urine over a 24-hour period. A blood test can be used to measure the blood protein level and determine if there are low levels of protein albumin and protein in general in the blood. “Loss of albumin is often associated with an increase in blood cholesterol and blood triglycerides.” A doctor may also require a kidney biopsy to test a kidney tissue sample. Treatment “Treatment for nephrotic syndrome involves treating any underlying medical condition that may be causing your nephrotic syndrome.” A variety of medications are used to treat symptoms. Water pills help control swelling. Statins are used to reduce cholesterol levels. Blood thinners prevent blood clots in the kidneys in order to prevent further damage to the glomeruli. Blood pressure medications are prescribed to not only reduce blood pressure, but also to “reduce the amount of protein released in the urine.” Social Security Disability As with all Social Security Disability (SSD) assessments, nephrotic syndrome is assessed by its impact on an individual's everyday life. The Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at the amount of swelling (edema) an individual suffers from. How much creatinine/protein is excreted by the kidneys is reviewed. The SSA looks at an individual's long-term medical records, at least 3 months, “that includes records of treatment, response to treatment, hospitalizations, and laboratory evidence of renal disease that indicates its progressive nature. The laboratory or clinical evidence will indicate deterioration of renal function, such as elevation of serum creatinine.” The SSA also reviews dialysis needs, osteoporosis due to renal disease, and “pain, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in peripheral nerve functions … that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.” If you suffer from nephrotic syndrome and are applying for Social Security Disability benefits, contact our knowledgeable attorney to assist you with the process.