What Are Continuing Disability Reviews?

Submitted by Chris on

The Social Security Administration periodically reviews cases every three or seven years depending on the severity of the condition, likelihood of improvement and the age of the claimant. This process is known as a Continuing Disability Review, and its purpose is to see if the claimant has experienced a change in their living circumstances. These reviews are carried out by employees of the Disability Determination Services and will include an examination by a doctor. Every single person receiving Social Security Disability benefits will be subject to these reviews and will receive a notice explaining the process. They will also receive a form in the mail which must be completed and returned to the Social Security Administration office. There are two different types of Continuing Disability Reviews: work and medical. The medical review is performed to see if the claimant is still suffering from a disability which prevents them from working. The work review looks at a Social Security Disability claimant’s earnings to see if their income is too high to receive benefits.

The Disability Review’s Purpose

The point of the Continuing Disability Review is not only to find out if you are recovering from the illness but also to see if you are suffering from any additional health problems. There is a possibility that a thorough examination will be required if the review team believe more information is necessary. A Continuing Disability Review is conducted in a similar manner to your original disability claim with the team carefully examining your medical records. Once the review is completed, the team will decide whether or not you are allowed to continue receiving your disability benefits. If they believe you have experienced an improvement in your condition, you will have to undergo a full disability review. Their decision will be mailed to you soon after the review.

If you are asked to participate in a full disability review, an interview form will be sent to you. This form is slightly more complex than the disability form you filled out during your initial claim. There will be questions pertaining to the period of time between your initial claim and the present. You will also be asked to get in touch with your nearest Social Security office where a representative will be waiting to advise you on your rights. You can certainly consult a Social Security attorney about your rights. This individual will also be able to ask any questions you have about the process.

Frequency Of Continuing Disability Reviews

On very rare occasions, claimants will undergo a Continuing Disability Review every six months but this will only happen in cases where the claimant is judged to have an illness which could be cured in a short period of time. Otherwise, the reviews take place either every three years or every seven. Social Security Disability claimants with illnesses that have a chance of healing have their cases reviewed every three years. Even those with conditions judged to be permanent have their cases reviewed every seven years by law. Claimants over the age of 50 usually undergo reviews every seven years as an improvement is considered less likely. The review team will look at the medical records which you presented when you first made the disability claim. They will then review any visits to the doctor or hospital you have made since the claim in order to see if there is any sign of the condition improving or worsening.

Changing Disability Laws

It needs to be remembered that the laws regarding what constitutes a disability are rapidly changing. However, if you have a condition that is no longer considered a disability under new rules, you will still receive Social Security Disability benefits if the condition has not improved and it was diagnosed before the change in law. An excellent example of a change in the law regards Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 20 years ago, children with ADHD regularly received benefits because the condition was considered to be a disability. Nowadays however, children with ADHD are usually not deemed to be disabled. Yet children who received payment under the old rules will still receive Social Security Disability benefits until they reach adulthood. Children who are considered to be disabled have their cases reviewed when they turn 18 because there are different rules for adults.

If You Lose Your Benefits After The Disability Review

If the review team decides you are no longer eligible for Social Security Disability, you will receive two more month’s worth of benefits in order to allow you time to find gainful employment or another means of supporting yourself. However, if you fail to fully cooperate with the review team your benefits are immediately cut off. Those who have their benefits taken away are allowed to take part in a face-to-face meeting with the individual who made the decision to terminate your income. If this meeting is unsuccessful, you are allowed to appeal and be heard by an Administrative Law Judge. It is a good idea to find a Social Security attorney to represent you in this instance. 

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