You got your benefits – now how do you pass a review?

Once you are receiving Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will periodically review your case to make sure that you are still disabled. This review is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) and the law requires it.

What can you expect from a CDR?

When the SSA determines that you are disabled, your disability determination specialist sets a date for your case review. This schedule is called a diary. Most diaries are based on the expectation of recovery and are for three or seven years, but they can be sooner:

• If medical improvement is “expected,” a case normally will be reviewed within six to 18 months;

• If medical improvement is “possible,” a case normally will be reviewed no sooner than three years;

• If medical improvement is “not expected,” a case normally will be reviewed no sooner than seven years.

The CDR is a medical review.  SSA is trying to decide if your level of disability has improved to the point where you have medically recovered and are able to work.

SSA will want to gather the same kind of evidence that you provided during your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits. SSA will have you fill out forms describing your current condition and list all of the places where you have received treatment. SSA will also obtain copies of all recent medical records. If more information is needed about your condition, SSA may schedule a Consultative Exam.

If your condition has not improved since SSA last reviewed your case, then your Social Security benefits will continue. If your condition has improved, SSA will look to see if your condition meets the current disability requirements.

It is important that when you receive the CDR notice and forms that you fill them out and return them. If you receive the CDR mailer and throw it in the trash, SSA will send a second one. Continued failure to provide information that SSA asks for, or failure to attend an examination that it schedules, will result in termination of benefit payments. You may need help answering the questions, especially if you are not certain what is being asked and why. This is where an attorney may help.

Continuing Disability Reviews for Children

When a person is found to be disabled under childhood regulations, SSA will review the case when the person turns 18 to determine if the person is disabled under the adult regulations. The case is reviewed as if it were a new case. SSA is looking to see how your disability affects your ability to work as an adult. Even if your condition has not improved, your benefits will cease if your condition does not meet the current adult rules.

Tips for a Continuing Disability Review

SSA looks at the original status of your medical condition(s) and compares it to the current status of your medical condition(s) to decide if there has been significant medical improvement. For this reason, it is important that you continue to seek medical treatment for your condition. If you have not continued to seek medical treatment, SSA will likely order a Consultative Exam to assess your current condition. It is usually more beneficial to you if your own doctor provides that information rather than a doctor hired by SSA who really doesn’t know you or your medical condition well.

Be honest and don’t exaggerate the symptoms caused by your current medical condition(s). The opposite is also important: don’t try to portray yourself as better than you truly are.

SSA is required to thoroughly evaluate any new medical conditions that have arisen since you were first awarded disability benefits. For this reason, it is important to tell your disability caseworker about any new conditions or treatment you have received.

If you receive notice that your benefits are being terminated, you are entitled to an interview with the person making the final decision on your case. If your benefits are still terminated after this interview, you can appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. You may have an attorney represent you.