Social security disability reviews can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months or more depending on whether you received the short or the long form. If you’re subjected to a full medical review, it may take longer.
As you know, the SSA routinely reviews the medical condition of people who are receiving disability benefits. It’s what the agency calls a “continuing disability review” (CDR). The frequency of which depends on how likely you are to recover and start working again.
When it’s time for your review, the SSA will send you forms by mail. These forms contain questions about your health, the activities you do, and how often you visit a doctor among others. You must fill-up this form and mail it back to the SSA. These forms come in two types: the short form or mailers and the long form.
Most people receiving SSDI and SSI benefits receive the short form. But if you are expected to improve in the short run, you’ll most likely receive the long form.
Those with disability claims who received the short form typically get a letter from the SSA one to three months after they mailed it back to the agency. While long form recipients have to undergo a full medical review that usually takes several months. There are also disability recipients who initially get the short form then followed by a long form. In these rare cases, the process can take six months or more.
Why is My Social Security Disability Being Reviewed?
Though most disability recipients are really disabled, there are also some bad eggs who try to take advantage of the system. You’ve probably heard reports about people who have already recovered and have started working but are still receiving disability benefits. Or those who have faked their disability to get benefits.
Remember that social security disability benefits are meant to assist people with disabilities. Unlike workers’ compensation, it is federally funded. So the government has to make sure that those who got approved for disability are really qualified. Having many non-disabled people on the SSA’s disability payroll will deprive those who really need it the most.
So if you received a social security disability review notice, know that it’s just routine. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your claim. Though your answers on the questionnaire may affect your benefits.
What Happens During a Social Security Disability Review?
As mentioned, the SSA will mail you a form once your schedule for disability review is up. What happens next will depend on whether you receive the short or long form.
If you get the short form
A short form or mailer is officially called a Disability Update Report. In most cases, it’s just the SSA’s way of keeping tabs on its disability recipients. But sometimes, the agency also uses it to determine if the recipient needs a continuing disability review.
The form contains questions about:
- how often you visit the doctor
- whether your health has improved
- recent trainings you’ve attended (if any)
- whether you’re following the prescribed treatment
- whether your doctor has discussed the possibility of you going back to work
If you changed your address, have left the country, or lost your form in the mail, you can also complete the Disability Update Report online. After mailing it back to the SSA, you’ll get a letter from the SSA informing you of their decision. If they say that a medical review is not needed at this time, your CDR will be deferred until your next review period.
But if your answers on the form make the SSA doubt your eligibility for disability benefits, they may order a full medical review.
If you get the long form
People with a high chance of recovery usually get the long form or the Continuing Disability Report (Form SSA454). If you receive this, it means you’ll have to go through a CDR and a full medical review.
The form asks more extensive questions about your disability and whether you’ve worked since your last review. It also requires you to list all the doctors, clinics, or hospitals you’ve visited. The SSA will then request your medical records from them.
Since the CDR process involves a full medical review, the disability decision can take several months.
How Often Can You Expect a Disability Review?
If you are expected to improve, they’ll schedule your review about eighteen months after you got disabled. If improvement is only possible but not expected, your condition will be reviewed every three years. When your condition is permanent, expect a disability review every seven years.
Will It Stop My Disability Benefits?
Most of the time it won’t, but it’s possible depending on your case.
There are two things that can stop your disability benefits.
First, if Social Security found out that you have medically improved and that you’re no longer considered disabled.
Second, if they found out that you’ve engaged in a substantial gainful activity (SGA). This means that you can already earn what you used to earn before your disability. Or you’re earning more than the SGA threshold. The amount changes every year but for 2021, it’s $1,310 per month.
In general, if you’re still disabled and unable to work, you won’t have to worry about losing your benefits.
Can I Ignore My Notice?
You might have thought about ignoring your disability review notice. But that’s one thing you should never do.
Disregarding a review notice can result in losing your benefits. It’s much better to comply and go through the review. Besides, if you really are still disabled, you’ll most likely keep your benefits.
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Victor Malca P.A. has over 25 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success in fighting for his clients puts among the most trusted workers’ compensation lawyers in Florida. Our area of expertise is in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claim social security disability benefits.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Ponio is a writer for Victor Malca Law P.A. and enjoys helping people with questions about social security, workers compensation, and other serious matters involving people’s livelihood. She is not an attorney and her writing should not be considered legal advice.