Vocational Rehabilitation

The Networks encourage providers to promote safe and quality care for individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease. In addition, it is important to include efforts to improve a patient's independence, quality of life, and rehabilitation.

Returning to Work or School on Dialysis

The interdisciplinary team must assist patients in achieving and sustaining an appropriate level of productive activity, as desired by the patient, and make rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation referrals as appropriate. In addition, the patient plan of care must reflect the evaluation of the patient’s physical activity level and referral to vocational and physical rehabilitation services when appropriate.

Communication is Key

Discuss your schedule with your doctor and social worker so you can choose a form of dialysis that will be the best for you. Doing this will allow you to work and study during normal work/school hours, travel for work/school when needed, and feel your best between treatments. To learn more about your options, please visit our Treatment Options page. Talking with your social worker is essential to understand the balance of your life, dialysis treatments, and working. They will be able to provide you with educational materials and make referrals to job training or re-training, employment counseling, and placement services.

It's also a good idea to compare dialysis facilities to find one that suits your needs by visiting Medicare Compare. To learn more about Medicare Compare, you can also visit our Medicare Compare & ICH CAHPS page.

Talk to your employer. Working full-time with a chronic condition can present challenges for you and your employer. Clear communication is essential to establishing a good working relationship. As stated in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are prohibited from questioning you about your disability. If you need accommodation, you will have to ask for it.

Know Your Rights

Returning to Work

There are laws that protect your rights as an ESRD patient and worker. This includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvements Act, and Social Security Work Incentive Programs. To learn more about these protections, see below. If you have questions or need guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues, you can contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to speak with free, expert, and confidential consultants.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Link
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Link
  • Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvements Act: Link
  • Social Security Work Incentives Programs: Link
Returning to School

Whether a child is going back to school or an adult wishes to continue their education, going to school is possible while receiving dialysis treatments. In addition to protection for workers with disabilities, there are laws that protect children and adults from discrimination in school. This includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and, for children, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The IDEA allows children to receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP). IEPs allow children to have the appropriate adjustments that allow the child to participate in regular school activities. To learn more about the IEPs and the process, visit Understood.org.

Tools & Resources

Returning to Work

  • Ticket to Work - Social Security Administrator: Link
  • Working on Dialysis: Guide
  • Keeping Your Job When You Need Dialysis: Article
  • Working with Kidney Disease - Rehabilitation and Employment: Q&A
  • Returning to Work on Dialysis: Article
  • A Kidney Patient's Guide to Working & Paying for Treatment: Guide
  • Workers with Disabilities and the ADA: Article

Returning to School

  • Managing College and Kidney Disease: Link
  • College Resources for Students with Disabilities: Link
  • Resource Guide for College Students with Disabilities: Link

Other Resources

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): Link
  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Programs for People with Disabilities: Link
  • Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with End-Stage Renal Disease: Link