If you have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, congratulations! The hardest part of the process is over, but the process itself continues.
Every three to seven years, Social Security Administration (SSA) will conduct a continuing disability review (CDR) on your case to make sure that you are still eligible for benefits. The agency will conduct CDRs for recipients of both SSDI and SSI benefits, and how often SSA conducts them depends on how likely your condition is to improve.
The CDR report is ten pages long and asks you multiple questions regarding whether you have seen your doctors, have been hospitalized in the last year, have undergone any medical tests, or have started working again. SSA will ask for updated medical evidence from the past twelve months. The CDR generally reviews your condition over the previous year, but SSA can go back to the moment you were first awarded benefits.
If your condition could improve, even if it is not likely to, SSA will conduct a CDR on your case every three years. If SSA does not anticipate that your condition will improve, it will conduct CDRs every seven years. Although SSA generally sticks to this schedule, SSA will conduct a CDR any time it has a reason to believe your condition may have improved.
Although it sounds like an intimidating process, SSA is not looking to take away your benefits, and there are simple things that you can do to prepare. First, continue to see your doctors and follow their treatment plans. Continuing treatment shows SSA that you are doing what you can to try to improve your condition. If you stop seeing your doctors or fail to follow their advice, SSA will schedule a CDR.
Next, you should learn as much as you can about your condition because SSA will ask you a lot of questions and then cross-reference the information in your medical records. If what you tell SSA does not match what your treating or examining physician wrote down, SSA will conduct a further investigation, and you may lose your benefits as a result.
Most individuals who qualify for disability benefits have met qualifications that make it unlikely their condition will improve and they’ll be able to return to work, but your continued benefits will ultimately depend on your disability, the likelihood that your condition will improve to the point that you will be able to work again, and whether you have returned to regular work activity.
Remember, you do not have to prove your disability to SSA all over again: SSA has to prove that there has been medical improvement to the point that your condition has lessened in severity and you are able to work again. If your condition has not improved to the point that you can resume work, SSA cannot terminate your benefits. Once the agency has determined that you are still unable to work because of your disability, the CDR is over.