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A Free Guide to Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits



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The Continuing Disability Review

By R. M. Bottger 

Once you are receiving Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration  will periodically review your case to make sure that you are still disabled. This review is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). Here is what you can expect from a CDR.

The length of time between CDR’s varies from one Social Security disability case to another. When a person is found to be disabled or when a CDR is performed, the disability determination specialist sets a date, called a diary, when the next review is scheduled to be performed. Most diaries are either for 3 or 7 years. If you have a condition that might get better, the case will probably receive a 3-year diary. For example, most mental illness cases receive a 3-year diary. If you have a condition that is unlikely to improve, then your case will probably receive a 7-year diary. Even permanent conditions such as low intellectual functioning and amputations will be reviewed because the law requires that all cases be reviewed. Most people over the age of 50 will get a 7-year diary because older people are less likely to improve. Occasionally, a condition that is likely to rapidly improve will get a diary that is less than 3 years. For example, the cases of premature babies are reviewed when the baby turns 1 year old. Children’s cases are reviewed when the child turns 18, in addition to any other reviews.

The evidence that SSA will need for your CDR is similar to what it needed for your initial claim for Social Security disability benefits. (See What Medical Records Should You Submit When You Apply for Disability Benefits?) SSA will have you fill out forms describing your current condition and list all of the places where you have received treatment. SSA will obtain copies of all recent medical records. SSA may schedule examinations or tests for you if more information is needed about your condition. (See Examinations Scheduled for You by SSA for Your Disability Claim.)  If you fail to provide information that SSA asks for or if you fail to attend an examination that it schedules for you, your benefits will be terminated.

            If your condition has not improved since SSA last looked at your case, then your Social Security disability benefits will continue. The laws, regulations, and court rulings that determine what constitutes disability are constantly changing. However, SSA will not cease your benefits just because you do not meet its current rules. As long as your condition has not improved, your benefits will continue.

            For example, let us take the case of a child named Henry who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In the early 1990’s, many kids with ADHD started receiving disability benefits. Now, the rules are much tougher on ADHD, and kids with ADHD are rarely found to be disabled. So let us say Henry was allowed back in the days when kids with ADHD were being found disabled. Now, his case is being reviewed as a CDR. If Henry’s case were a new case, his case would be a denial under the current regulations. However, since Henry’s case is a CDR his benefits will continue as long as his ADHD has not improved.

            If a person’s condition has improved, SSA will then look to see if a person’s condition meets SSA’s current rules for determining disability. For example, Sue was allowed due to a heart condition. Since that time, Sue has had bypass grafting, she has been exercising daily, and she quit smoking. As a result, her heart condition has improved. SSA would then look to see if her heart condition or any other conditions meet SSA’s current rules. Therefore, if Sue had a cardiovascular accident (a stroke) since the original decision on her case, SSA would consider whether her stroke as well as whether her heart condition meet SSA’s current requirements.

            When a person is found to be disabled under the childhood regulations, SSA will review the case when the person turns 18 to see if the person is disabled under the adulthood rules. Even if the person’s condition has not improved, his or her benefits will be ceased if his or her condition does not meets the current adult rules. The case is looked at as if it were a new case. Many people’s benefits are terminated when they reach age 18. Take Henry from our first example. When he turns 18, his case will be looked at under the current adult rules. He will not be found to be disabled due to ADHD under the adult rules. Therefore, his benefits will be ceased at age 18.

            Once you are notified that your Social Security disability benefits are to be ceased, your benefits will continue for two more months to allow you time to arrange other means of support. The only exception to this is if your Social Security disability benefits are being ceased for failure to cooperate; in that case, your benefits will cease immediately.

            If your Social Security disability benefits are terminated, you are entitled to a face-to-face interview with the person making the final decision on your case. If your benefits are still ceased after the interview, you can appeal the decision to an administrative law judge. You may have an attorney represent you if you wish.

Social Security Disability Secrets








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