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What You Should Know About Continuing Disability Reviews

helping old man walkEven after being approved for benefits, the Social Security Administration may review your condition to determine if you still meet the definition of disability. These are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) and there are certain things you should know about them.

Our Harrisburg Social Security Disability attorneys welcome a chance to review your situation in a free legal consultation. We have helped many people with disabilities obtain benefits.

When Should I Expect a Review?

When you receive your award of benefits, the date of your first CDR will be stated on your award letter. The date of your review depends on how likely your medical condition is to improve.

  • Condition is expected to improve – In these situations, a review normally happens sometime between six and 18 months from your benefit start date. Those over age 55 are rarely found to have a condition where improvement is expected.
  • Improvement is possible - In a case where improvement is seen as possible, there usually will not be a CDR until at least three years from the benefit start date.
  • Medical improvement is not expected - Cases like this usually will not be reviewed until five to seven years from the start of benefits. Medical conditions that fall within this category include certain kinds of cancer, permanent blindness, autism or Down Syndrome.

The timing of the review will also depend on your local office conditions and how many reviews are required around the same time.

The SSA currently has a backlog of 1.3 million CDRs, so it will just send a Disability Update Report questionnaire to claimants instead of conducting a full medical review.

The questionnaire asks about your current health, medical treatment you recently received, employment status and job training. If a claimant says there was medical improvement or he or she does not complete the questionnaire, a full medical review will be conducted. Otherwise, the review will be deferred.

What Are the Types of Reviews?

The Social Security Administration conducts two types of reviews:

Work Review

The work review process analyzes a recipient’s earnings to determine if he or she is earning more than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. For blind individuals, the SGA limit in 2019 is $2,040. The limit for non-blind individuals in 2019 is $1,220.

You will likely not need to go through a work review if you have been receiving benefits for at least two years or you are taking part in the Ticket to Work program.

Medical Review

A medical review analyzes whether you still meet the medical requirements to receive benefits. It is important to note benefits cannot be stopped because of changes in SSA disability criteria. This means it is much more difficult for eligibility to be ended than to allow someone to continue receiving benefits.  

Dealing with a Request for a Review?

If you receive a request for review, you should always respond to it. The Social Security Administration cannot terminate your disability benefits unless it has substantial evidence of medical improvement that enables you to participate in substantial employment. If it is shown that your medical condition has not improved or your disability still prevents you from working, you should not expect any change in your eligibility.

Before the SSA can terminate your benefits, it must make one of the following findings:

  • Your medical condition has improved to a point that you earn more than the SGA limit.
  • You have benefited from advances in medical technology or vocational therapy that allow you to perform substantial gainful activity.
  • Due to better methods of diagnosis, your impairment is no longer considered disabling and you can work and earn more than the SGA limit.
  • The earlier determination was made in error.

In addition to terminating benefits due to you engaging in substantial gainful activity, your benefits could be terminated if any of the following scenarios apply:

  • You received your benefits by committing fraud
  • You cannot be located
  • You did not follow prescribed treatment that would have allowed you to engage in substantial gainful activity

If you believe your benefits have been terminated in error, you can appeal the decision.

Contact an Experienced Lawyer for More Information

If you are confused about the Social Security Disability process, contact the experienced attorneys at Schmidt Kramer. The consultation is completely free of charge and comes with no obligation to take legal action.

We can guide you through the entire application and appeals process, if you have a valid claim.

We are here to help you. Call (717) 888-8888 today.