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What to Do with a Continuing Disability Review

By March 3, 20203 min read

Many people think that once they’ve been approved for disability benefits, either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, that’s the end of the story. But the Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts periodic reviews of cases to make sure that the people receiving benefits are still entitled to them.

These routine reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR). SSA’s main purpose in conducting CDRs is to see if any medical improvement has occurred since you were approved for benefits the first time or since your last CDR. If SSA thinks that you have improved, it will check to see whether you still meet the standard of disability for your condition.

How often SSA reviews your case depends on the likelihood your condition will improve. If it is expected to improve, SSA will perform a CDR within 6-18 months of your disability benefits approval. If improvement is possible, SSA will review your case every 3 years. If improvement is not expected, SSA will perform a CDR every 5-7 years.

If SSA has decided to review your case, you will likely receive a written notice with forms to fill out and return to them. There are a few things that you can do to prepare for this possibility so that you don’t panic when you receive a CDR notice in the mail. Make sure that you respond to SSA’s requests on time. And if there is anything that you do not understand, get help.

Keep copies of all documents that you send to SSA and create lists of medical tests and treatments that you have undergone. Maintain your relationships with doctors and make sure they are aware of your condition. Lastly, be sure to notify SSA of any changes to your mailing address.

Not everyone receives forms from SSA in the mail, although about 70% percent of disability beneficiaries do. Cases that have a higher likelihood of improving will be sent to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) for a full medical review.

It takes about 1-3 months to hear back from SSA. If they determine that you are no longer disabled, your benefits will stop. You can appeal this decision and request provisional benefits to continue for up to 6 months.

The easiest way to lose your disability benefits is to fail to respond to SSA’s requests or otherwise refuse to cooperate. They can also terminate your benefits if they find out that you have obtained substantial gainful activity or that your prior disability award was obtained fraudulently. And your benefits will be jeopardized if SSA finds that you aren’t following prescribed medical treatment that would be expected to restore your ability to work.