What is a continuing disability review? 

Your Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits might last a lifetime, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) will often conduct periodic reviews of your medical condition to determine whether you are still eligible for benefits. 

In this article, we will discuss the basics of continuing disability reviews, including:

  • How continuing disability reviews work, 
  • The difference between “short form” and “long form” reviews, 
  • What you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly, and
  • How to appeal the discontinuation of your benefits. 

What is a Continuing Disability Review? 

Once you have qualified for disability benefits, SSA will periodically review your medical records to make sure that you are still disabled and that you still qualify for benefits. 

This is a completely normal process – SSA is required to conduct these reviews to confirm that a disabled person is still eligible for benefits and that their condition has not improved. 

The good news is that passing a continuing disability review (CDR) is usually a much easier process than qualifying for your benefits at the beginning. Let’s take a look at how continuing disability reviews work and what you should expect. 

How Continuing Disability Reviews Work

If your condition is likely to improve, you should expect a review at least every three years or even sooner. If SSA believes that your condition is not likely to improve, you will still have a continuing disability review, but the review may come every seven years. Of course if the medical evidence indicates that your condition has improved, or if you return to work, SSA may conduct a CDR at any time. 

In regard to when a medical review will occur in your case, look at the initial decision. When you were first approved for benefits, the award letter should have contained the time frame for your first CDR. 

Short Form 

If your condition is not expected to improve, SSA might send you a “short form Disability Update Report,” which asks some basic questions about your medical condition, your doctors’ visits, and whether you have returned to work. 

If, based on the short form responses, SSA decides you do not need a “long form Continuing Disability Review Report,” you will receive a letter from the SSA stating that no further disability review is necessary at this time. 

Long Form

If SSA decides that you need a more thorough CDR due to the responses on the short form Disability Update Report – or because SSA expects your condition to improve – you will receive the long form Continuing Disability Review Report. The Long Form report asks more detailed questions about your medical condition, your doctors’ visits, your current employment, and how your medical conditions affect your daily life. 

If, based on your long form responses, SSA decides to investigate further, they will conduct a full continuing disability review including a review of your medical records. 

When Can the SSA End My Benefits? 

Your benefits can only be stopped after a full CDR if the SSA decides that your medical condition has improved, and you can return to work. You will have the opportunity to appeal this decision. 

What Can I Do to Pass a Continuing Disability Review? 

If you have been approved for benefits and your condition has not changed, you should not be too concerned about your CDRs. The most important things that you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly and your benefits are not terminated include:

  • Do not stop medical treatment – don’t miss your doctors’ appointments and follow up on all treatment recommendations.
  • Be sure to ask your doctors and healthcare providers to document your ongoing limitations in their records and their opinions that your condition has not significantly improved.
  • Keep track of all important documents like SSA award letters, notices, and your medical records.
  • Fill out all required forms and submit them to the SSA without delay. 

You should also talk to your disability attorney about specific steps you can take to pass your continuing disability reviews based on your individual circumstances. 

Appealing a Discontinuation of Benefits

If SSA terminates your benefits, there is an appeals process available to you. If you need assistance, you can contact a SC disability appeals lawyer to ensure that you do not waive important rights, miss deadlines, or lose your benefits unnecessarily. 

The first step is to request a review by Disability Determination Services. Although you have 60 days from the date of denial to file your request for reconsideration, you must file your appeal within 10 days if you want your benefits to continue.

There are four levels to the appeals process:

  1. Request for reconsideration, 
  2. A hearing before an administrative law judge, 
  3. A Review by the Appeals Council, and
  4. Federal court review. 

If your appeals are filed within ten days, your benefits should continue until your appeal is decided. If your appeal is ultimately denied, the benefits you received during the appeals process are considered an overpayment subject to recoupment, but you can then file a request for a “good faith waiver” based on your circumstances regarding repayment of these benefits.. 

Questions About Continuing Disability Reviews?

If you have any questions about your continuing disability review or how to appeal a termination of your benefits, call the Law Office of Nicholas G. Callas, P.A. at 803-369-3968 or contact us through our website for a free consultation.

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