Being approved for Social Security Disability benefits is a bittersweet experience. The bitter feeling comes from the fact that you are living with such a significant physical or mental impairment that you are unable to perform work to support yourself and your family. The sweetness is from the fact that you are finally going to be getting what may be a long-overdue benefit payment.
Your Social Security Disability lawyer will tell you everything you need to know about what the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires for you to continue getting SSD benefits. At the Law Firm, we pride ourselves on keeping our clients fully informed and up to date on all the developments that may affect our SSD clients. As long as you remain disabled by the government’s standards, your payments will continue uninterrupted.
Social Security Administration’s Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR)
With 8.2 million people receiving SSD benefit payments as of early 2021, the Social Security Administration tries to identify cases where an SSD recipient may have become ineligible since they were originally awarded benefits. The SSA established a system of continuing disability reviews (CDR) to find the recipients who are no longer eligible for benefits.
The Social Security Disability program only grants benefits to workers who are totally disabled. The disability qualifies only if it lasts or is expected to last for one year or more or is expected to result in the recipient’s death. It’s a tragic reality that many SSD beneficiaries have disabilities that will persist for the rest of their working life. But others may recover.
As experienced SSD lawyers, The Law Firm represents many SSD claimants whose disability fully qualifies for SSD benefits but whose impairment may improve over time. An illness or injury can improve with months or years of modern medical treatment and rehabilitative therapy.
Cases Expected to Recover
The SSA cannot reexamine all 8.2 million cases every few months to ensure that every claimant’s disability is ongoing and unimproved. The solution the SSA adopted was to categorize all SSD cases into three groups based on the nature of the recipient’s impairment.
For SSD cases where the recipient’s impairment is susceptible to recovery or expected to improve, the SSA schedules a case review to be conducted every 6 to 18 months. An example might be if you suffered a severe bone fracture requiring multiple surgeries and rehabilitative therapy just to regain your ability to walk. While you may remain totally disabled for many months, the SSA could expect that you would improve within three years of the onset of your disability. The case would be reviewed periodically to determine your condition.
The CDR could be financial or medical. If you have resumed working at a “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) producing income over $1,310 per month, then your eligibility might be terminated on financial grounds unless you were participating in an SSA-affiliated back-to-work program.
Medical CDR means the SSA will reexamine your original medical records and compare them to current or recent records reflecting any change in your condition. As long as you retain your records and maintain a cooperative relationship with your treating health care providers, your case should be approved for continued eligibility following the CDR. If there is doubt about your condition, the SSA can schedule a request for a medical examination. If that happens, you should notify your professional SSD attorney immediately.
Cases with a Possibility of Recovery
When improvement of a disability is possible, though unlikely, the CDR can be scheduled at 3-year intervals. The difficulty with predicting improvement arises partly from the increased frequency of disabilities based solely or partly on mental impairments. It is not unusual for impairments stemming from mental illness to improve or worsen alternatively over long periods. The less likely an impairment is to improve, the less frequently the CDR is scheduled.
Cases Not Expected to Recover
SSD beneficiaries with a permanent impairment or illness expected to result in the recipient’s death are not reviewed any more often than once in 7 years. The SSA does not want to devote valuable resources to CDRs or impose unnecessarily on SSD recipients who are unlikely to recover.
What happens if the CDR determines you are no longer disabled?
If your CDR results in a decision to terminate your benefits because your impairment has improved enough for you to perform substantial gainful activity, your Social Security attorney can file an appeal of the decision and request you continue to receive your benefits during the appeal process.
An experienced and skilled Social Security Disability lawyer like Law will fight for you throughout the entire appellate process. If a decision against you is unfair or unsupported by the evidence, regaining your benefits for you is our highest priority.
Refiling for SSD Benefits
Just as an SSD recipient’s impairment can improve over time, recovery from a disability may not be permanent. If your disability benefits were ended due to your recovery, remember that you remain eligible to refile for SSD benefits if you return to a state of disability, either because the earlier impairment returned or because a new disabling impairment developed. The Law Firm will represent your SSD or SSI claim from the first moment you decide to apply until the last issue is resolved. We have represented thousands of clients in SSD claims over the years.