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Do I Have to Apply Every Year After I Start to Receive Benefits?

Disability application and review processes can take months, and in some cases, even longer. Once approved though, you’ll have disability payments coming your way every month without constantly worrying you’ll lose your support.

Although you never have to reapply once approved for disability, periodic re-evaluations of eligibility are conducted as a standard part of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability regulations.

The severity level of your medical condition determines how frequently these reviews occur, and while the review of your eligibility can be a bit worrisome, your benefits will continue as long as your disability remains severe and prevents you from working. You can rest assured that once approved, you will never need go through the full process of submitting a claim and waiting months to hear back from the SSA.

Schedule for Continuing Benefit Reviews

The SSA periodically rechecks eligibility as a means of preventing fraud and ensuring those who receive support through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) still qualify under program guidelines. The schedule for continuing eligibility reviews varies but typically runs on a one-year, three-year, or seven-year schedule, dependent upon the severity level of the disability for which you’re approved.

  • If your medical condition is one that responds well to treatment and often allows people to return eventually to work, then you may be placed on a one-year reevaluation schedule. If you specifically are expected to improve sooner, then your first review may be scheduled sooner as well. The first reevaluation of eligibility could be anywhere from six to 18 months after benefits commence. If you’re still disabled at the first review however, then a one-year schedule is often set thereafter.
  • With conditions that take longer to improve but do often allow people to return to employment, the SSA may re-evaluate eligibility every three years instead. Many chronic conditions and treatment-responsive forms of cancer are on a three-year continuing eligibility schedule, for example.
  • With severe impairments that never or often do not improve, the continuing eligibility schedule is typically set at seven years. Genetic disorders and diseases that progressively worsen over time may be scheduled for seven-year reviews, but this is mostly a formality. In other words, the SSA must take a quick look at eligibility to ensure fairness in the payment of benefits, but they don’t spend a lot of time scrutinizing these kinds of disability cases.

How Reviews are Conducted

When the SSA needs to review your claim, you’ll receive a notice in the mail asking you to report to your local field office for a brief interview. During this interview, you’ll need to provide the SSA with:

  • Information on your current medical condition and your everyday limitations
  • Names, address, and contact information for your doctors and any hospitals or other medical facilities at which you’ve received treatment
  • Information on and employer contact details for any work you’ve performed since you were approved for disability

The information the local SSA office obtains from you will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office that reviewed your initial claim for benefits. DDS decides the status of your disability and issues a notice informing you of whether your benefits will continue or cease. As long as your medical condition remains severe and stops you from working, you’ll continue to receive disability payments.