On average, Social Security Disability claims take two to three years to complete, sometimes even longer. This is due to the large backlog currently hindering the Social Security Administration (SSA). Simply getting approved is a major accomplishment. The journey may have been long, but you can finally relax because it’s over…right? Well, not necessarily. After you are approved, you’ll need to keep the SSA informed of any changes to your financial situation, your medical condition(s), and even your living arrangements if you’re receiving SSI. There is also a chance that your case will be reviewed in the future. Actually, the SSA is required to review every individual receiving Social Security Disability (SSD,) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) This is referred to as a Continuing Disability Review, or CDR for short. It’s important for everyone receiving disability benefits to be aware of what to expect from the CDR process. In this blog, we will explain the Continuing Disability Review in detail.
The most important thing to know about the CDR is that, if the SSA finds that your conditions have improved, you may no longer receive benefits. If your conditions haven’t improved, or if they’ve worsened, the SSA won’t likely stop your benefits.
How often do these reviews occur? The SSA does not have a set schedule for their CDRs, but most individuals will be reviewed every three to seven years. Each case is different. For individuals with conditions that are likely to improve, the reviews may occur more frequently than an individual with a condition that is not as likely to improve. The SSA may review your case less frequently than three to seven years if you have a condition that will not improve. For instance, if you’re receiving disability benefits as the result of a lost limb, you may not be subject to a review for much longer than the average time.
In addition to your condition, your age plays a factor in how often the SSA will review your case. If you’re younger than 50, you may be subject to a review more frequently than someone who is over 50. When it comes to a child’s case, there is one major difference: every child who receives SSI will be automatically reviewed when they turn 18. At 18, the child will be reviewed under adult standards, as opposed to the standards set for children.
There are additional circumstances that may give the SSA a reason to review your case after you’ve been approved. Think of these situations as “red flags” in your case. They are situations that may be in violation of the SSA rules. The following list provides examples of situations that would alert the SSA that your case should be reviewed:
- You return to work
- You inform the SSA that your condition has improved
- Your medical evidence indicates that your condition has improved
- A third-party informs the SSA that you are not following your treatment protocol, or
- A new treatment for your disabling condition has recently been introduced
So, what exactly is involved in a CDR? You will be notified by the SSA by mail. This is just one of the many reasons why it is important to keep your information current with the SSA. When they notify you, they will send you one of two forms. If your condition isn’t likely to improve, you will get the “short form”—the Disability Update Report, which is a simple, two-page form. If you have a condition that is more likely to improve, you may receive the “long form”—the Continuing Disability Review Report. This longer form is similar to the initial application for benefits. It’s about 10 pages long, and it features more in-depth questions than the short form. The long form will ask a lot of questions about your medical history for the past year. They will want to know if you’ve seen a doctor or been hospitalized in the past 12 months. They will also ask about tests that you’ve had in the past year, and want your updated medical records. This is why we tell all of our clients that it is important to continue treatment even after you are approved. Medical treatment is the most beneficial thing anyone can do to help their case.
If you haven’t returned to work, and the SSA finds no evidence that your conditions have improved or improved enough to return to work, then the review is complete. However, if your conditions have improved, and the SSA believes that you can return to work, they will notify you that your benefits have stopped, and you will be given the chance to appeal.
If your medical evidence is not sufficient enough for the SSA to decide, they may set you up for a Consultative Exam. This is an exam by a doctor that is paid for by the SSA.
Hopefully, your CDRs will go well, and you won’t lose your benefits. Many individuals aren’t even aware that they will be subject to a review. If you need help getting approved, call our firm for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form and we will contact you at a better time.