hourglassContinuing Disability Review Guide

After disability benefits are granted the Social Security Administration will review cases to determine if the beneficiary still deserves the benefits. These reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews or CDR for short. 

CDRs can take place at any time while a person is receiving benefits. However, they are most likely to occur within twelve to twenty-four months after benefits are awarded, but can be in as little as six months or as long as seven years. The average is every three years. Reviews may continue periodically throughout the remainder of a person’s life as long as they remain on Social Security disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Limited or In-depth

A CDR may be as simple as responding to a letter from the SSA that requests an update of your medications, treatments and your condition. You should note the time frame required in the letter and respond by that date or you may risk losing benefits. This time frame is normally thirty days. These letters are usually sent when the SSA does not expect improvement in your condition, but information you provide at this time may justify a full review.

One of the questions on the short form asks if your condition has improved. You should answer truthfully, but a positive response may justify a full CDR. However, the SSA must show that your condition has improved significantly enough to allow you to work substantially gainfully before benefits can be stopped. Just because you have improved medically does not always mean that your ability to work has correspondingly improved.

In-depth reviews will probably require an appointment and at least one trip to a Social Security office to present your information. You may be required to be evaluated by an SSA doctor and/or have testing conducted.

How to Get a CDR

There are several ways to make sure you get a CDR, if you want one. The first is to have a possible fraud complaint filed against you. If someone reports that you do not appear to be disabled enough to not work gainfully an investigation may be triggered.

If you went before an Administrative Law Judge to get your benefits he or she may have recommended a review based on the conditions you presented at your hearing. For instance, if your medical condition is expected to improve, let’s say following heart problems or cancer treatments, then a review will probably take place to make sure that you remain eligible for benefits.

If you begin working and income is reported (or not reported) a review may be held to determine if it is possible for you to return to the workforce, even temporarily. The SSA may recommend work assistance programs like Ticket to Work that enable you to work for a period of time before losing benefits. You may also be subject to criminal prosecution if you have been working without reporting the work and income to the SSA.

Fourthly, you may receive a review notice simply because your name was picked and not because of anything you did or did not do. The SSA is required to review every beneficiary from time to time.

Your Benefits May Stop!

When the SSA conducts a full or in-depth CDR your benefits may stop from the time of notice until a decision is made at the hearing to continue your benefits. In order to keep receiving payments during the waiting period you must write a letter to the SSA within ten days of the notice and request that your benefits continue. However, if the decision at the CDR is against you, you will be required to return the money paid during the wait time.

Preparing for a CDR

Preparation for a Continuing Disability Review is eerily similar to preparing for a disability hearing. All of the same information such as doctor’s notes, test records and supporting case information are necessary, but in this case they must support your need for disability from the time you were awarded to the present, however long that may be. The SSA will put the most emphasis on the last twelve months preceding the CDR.

The majority of the review is based on your medical records. Therefore, every SSDI or SSI recipient should start their preparations immediately after their application is approved. This means that you should continue to visit your doctors without fail. Don’t miss appointments! You should follow medical protocols and any recommendations for treatment suggested by your doctors. Continue taking your medications as prescribed. In other words, you should continue all treatment just as you did prior to receiving benefits.

A third suggestion is to contact your attorney right away. If you went through an appeal hearing you probably recognize how invaluable legal assistance was in helping you obtain benefits. A CDR is no different and a lawyer may be your best asset.

What to do When Receiving a Notice

If you have received a short form questionnaire fill it out making sure you use a dark pencil or black ink pen and send it back right away. Don’t miss the deadline.

If you have received notice of a full CDR and desire to continue receiving benefits request a continuation within ten days of the notice. Contact an attorney to assist you. Begin gathering all of your medical records from the time of award or last review to present day. Complete the questionnaire, possibly with your lawyer’s assistance and return it within the time frame stated.

If Benefits are Discontinued

As mentioned previously, most of the time benefits are continued, but on occasion they are stopped wrongfully. Just like the initial application phase, there is an appeal process and the next step most likely will be a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

To Wrap it Up…

A Continuing Disability Review is not a laughing matter and should be taken seriously. However, if you were awarded disability benefits legitimately, have followed the SSA guidelines since the award, and your condition has not improved enough to allow gainful work you should not have trouble receiving continued benefits. Legal assistance may be a good idea and the Cochran Firm is open to discussing your case with you should you contact us.




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Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.”

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