What You Need to Know About Continuing Disability Reviews

Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) evaluate your ability to return to work if you are already receiving disability benefits. Anyone receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) must be able to prove their medical conditions continue to prevent them from working when the Social Security Administration (SSA), initiates a CDR. Your benefits will be stopped if the CDR shows that your medical condition has improved enough to allow you to return work again. 

The idea of facing a Continuing Disability Review can seem daunting. After all, it was a hard-fought battle to get disability benefits in the first place. Fully understanding the CDR process can put you in a better position to continue receiving benefits. That is why it is advisable to get help from an experienced disability attorney as soon as you learn SSA is conducting a CDR of your benefits.

What is a Continuing Disability Review?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically reviews the medical condition(s) of SSDI and SSI recipients. In addition to considering the current status of your medical condition(s), if you are receiving SSI benefits SSA will also review your household income, assets, and expenses, and living arrangements. 

If your medical condition(s) are those that are expected to improve sometime after your award of disability benefits, SSA will typically review your case at least once every three years (although it can be as soon as 6-12 months after your award of benefits, and if your benefits were awarded by an administrative law judge, he or she can order an earlier review in their written decision). If your condition(s) are not likely to improve or lessen in severity, the review schedule can be as long as every seven years (although this can vary from case to case).

What Triggers a CDR?

Apart from the regular Continuing Disability Reviews, the following events can trigger a CDR: 

  • You notify SSA that you have recovered from your disability.
  • You return to work.
  • Someone reports to SSA that your condition(s) have improved enough for you to return to work. 
  • SSA discovers that you are not following the prescribed treatment.
  • New treatments become available that could improve your medical condition(s).

Continuing Disability Reviews for Adults

As explained above, in general, all adults who receive Social Security Disability benefits are subject to periodic CDR. In all cases, it is helpful to have an experienced disability attorney represent you during the CDR process.

Continuing Disability Reviews for Children

Child beneficiaries of disability benefits can also be subject to periodic CDR, but are also subject to an automatic CDR when they turn 18 years old. During this review process, SSA will now re-evaluate the beneficiary’s current medical condition(s) under adult disability rules. Because these standards are different from those for a child, it is important to get expert legal advice prior to the benefit recipient turning 18.

Continuing Disability Review Process

If your case is scheduled for a CDR, SSA will send you a letter to inform you about the upcoming review. Depending on your medical condition(s), the letter will include the short form — Disability Update Review — or the long-form — Continuing Disability Review Report. 

To review your case, you will need to provide accurate answers and fully disclose the status of your current medical conditions and medical treatment, as well as other requested information.

Depending on the results of the disability review, the SSA could do one of three things:

  • Stop your benefits.
  • Continue your disability benefits.
  • Ask you to attend a consultative examination (at the cost of the SSA).

Continuing Disability Reviews: SSA has notified you that your case is under review. What should you do now?

Continuing Disability Reviews can cause much anxiety and worry — especially if you think your benefits may stop. If you’re concerned about an upcoming CDR, please contact Attorney Sara J. Frankel. She is a skilled and compassionate disability attorney, who is a former Social Security Administration staff attorney with almost 30 years of experience practicing disability law in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.