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3 Steps for People Who Work and Have Kidney Disease

When you are part of the workforce and diagnosed with early stage or late stage chronic kidney disease (CKD), you will want to know how to maintain employment. First off, know that you may still work when you have CKD. The materials below are designed to help you determine the right time to talk to your employer, work with your doctor on treatment options and learn about your rights as an employee. You’ve come to the right place — use this general checklist to guide you through this transition.

Step 1: Make the Right Choices to Stay Healthy

Step 2: Know Whether or Not You Can Afford Not to Work

Step 3: Make the Transition to Working on Dialysis

  • Taking action now will make it easier for you to work while on dialysis.
  • Know your rights as a worker. Use this guide to reference: A Guide to Disability Rights Laws – U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Explore your treatment options and ask questions about them at your next doctor’s visit.
  • Ask questions about workplace accommodations or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at Job Accommodation Network.
  • Understand your employee benefits.
  • Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • Modifications may be necessary when you go back to work. Talk to your doctor about it as well as how much time you’ll need off.
  • Talk to your employer about leave of absence and an estimated return date. Accommodations and changes may be necessary when you return:




Modified work schedules

Work area

Reassigning non-essential tasks

PD exchange area

Unpaid leave


Reassignment to a vacant position

  • After your first day of dialysis, you may need to take a short-term leave of absences (4-12 weeks).
  • Continue working when you need dialysis. Work with your employer, physician and dialysis provider to modify any schedule and/or tasks as needed.
  • Keeping your job when you have kidney disease is likely to help you feel healthier, happier and financially secure.



Financially Secure

Improved clinical outcomes

No withdrawal from usual social environments

Higher income

Lower mortality rate for people who continue to work2

Continue to contribute to family, community and society

Social Security Disability only covers 30-40% of current wages

Lower hospitalization rates2

Less likely to experience depression1

Access to insurance through work3

  • Better choice4
  • Family coverage
  • Lower out of pocket
  • Transplant feasibility5
  1. Depressed Mood, Usual Activity Level, and Continued Employment after Starting Dialysis. Nancy G. Kutner,* Rebecca Zhang,* Yijian Huang,* and Kirsten L. Johansen*†‡, 2012
  2. Dialysis Patients' Mental Health Linked To Heart Health And Longevity.Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN) April 2012. Ea Wha Kang, MD, PhD, from the Ilsan Hospital in Gyeonggi-do, Korea and Mark Unruh, MD, from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
  3. Witten B, Schatell DR, Becker BN. Relationship of ESRD working-age patient employment to treatment modality (Abstract). J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004; 15:633A.
  4. Kasper JD, Giovannini TA, Hoffman C. Gaining and losing health insurance: strengthening the evidence for effects on access to care and health outcomes. Med Care Res Rev. 57(3):298-318, 2000.
  5. Kasiske BL, London W, llison MD. Race and socioeconomic factors influencing early placement on the kidney transplant waiting list. J Am Soc Nephrol 9(11):2142-2147, 1998.
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