Understanding Social Security Disability Case Review

Every approved Social Security disability case is reviewed. This process is called a Continuing Disability Review. Most individuals with HD have a review every 3 years or every 7 years. Your disability award letter tells you when your case will be reviewed so make sure to read the full award letter.

Your case will undergo either a Work Review if you work while receiving disability benefits, OR a Medical Review to determine if you still meet the requirements for a medical disability. Social Security cannot terminate your benefits unless you earn over the earnings limit OR they find substantial evidence that your condition has improved and you are able to work. Social Security is only reviewing your original disabling conditions. Therefore, new conditions cannot be used to show a continuing disability.

Medical Continuing Disability Review (CDR)

There are two possible forms you could receive when your disability case is reviewed – The Short From or The Long Form. First, the Short Form is 2 pages and has only six questions. The form asks if you have recently worked and if you and your doctor have discussed your ability to work. Call your doctor and ask their opinion about your ability to work before completing the form if you are not sure. Accordingly, most HD individuals receive the Short Form since HD is a condition that is not going to improve.

Second, the Long Form is 13 pages and asks more detailed questions. In addition to asking about your ability to work, this form asks about recent medical care and activities of daily living. HD individuals can still receive the Long form so it is important to be as detailed and accurate as possible. IMPORTANTLY, you must continue to get regular medical care or your disability benefits could be stopped. Find more information here.

Work Continuing Disability Review (CDR)

Under a work review, Social Security looks at earnings to determine if an individual is eligible for monthly benefits. If you continue to work while receiving Social Security benefits, then you need to keep track of ALL of your pay stubs and monthly earnings. Additionally, you need to report your earnings to Social Security on a monthly basis. Taking part in the Ticket to Work program or the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Program can help you work and manage your benefits and earnings. Notably, if you are enrolled in the Ticket to Work program, you will not undergo a Medical CDR.

A CDR can take anywhere from one to six months to complete. The timeline for your review depends on what form you receive: the Short Form, the Long Form, or both. To help your CDR get processed as quickly as possible:

  • Don’t wait to complete the forms;
  • Carefully and thoroughly complete the forms;
  • Ask for help if you need help;
  • Tell your doctor that your Social Security disability is getting reviewed;
  • Ask for a letter of support from your doctor;
  • Continue to get medical care for your HD and any other conditions.
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