SSDRC authored by Tim Moore
Social Security Disability and SSI Questions and Answers
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
More questions about SSD and SSI
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
How does the Social Security Disability Review work?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Social Security disability is not always considered a lifetime benefit, because Social Security periodically reviews all disability recipients to determine if they are still eligible to receive disability as defined by the rules and regulations of the Social Security administration. Two things affect Social Security disability eligibility and that is medical improvement and work activity.
How does Social Security establish when disability claims are to be reviewed? Social Security has a system of medical diary dates that it uses to review an individual's eligibility to continue receiving disability benefits. These reviews are known as Social Security disability reviews or continuing medical reviews (CDR for short). Since I mentioned Social Security’s medical diary date system, I will explain what is meant by a medical diary date.
Social Security generally establishes review dates (for periodic medical reviews of someone's case) in the following categories:
1. Improvement likely
2. Improvement possible
3. No improvement possible
An Improvement likely diary indicates that Social Security will review your case at some point prior to three years. A medical Improvement possible diary indicates that Social Security will review your claim every three years or so. And a No improvement possible diary signifies that Social Security will review your claim every seven years or more.
Is your case reviewed only according to these time frames? No, a review can occur if it is "triggered". What might trigger a Social Security disability review other than an established diary date? Work activity often triggers work-continuing reviews that may lead to a medical review to establish medical improvement.
Social Security has access to the earnings that are being reported yearly to the Internal Revenue Service from employers and tax returns. If a work alert is established for your disability case, SSA will notify you that your disability eligibility is being reviewed. Of course, if you report that you have returned to work or another individual reports that you are working, your work activity may be reviewed to determine if it is substantial gainful activity (if you are working at more than the substantial gainful activity level, this means you are earning more than the limit that is allowed for you to continue receiving disability benefits).
What does the performance of substantial gainful activity indicate to Social Security? Potentially the performance of substantial gainful activity indicates medical improvement. However, the mere performance of substantial gainful activity does not always indicate that medical improvement has taken place. But it can possibly lead to a suspension of disability eligibility or even termination of one's disability benefits.
If there is no work activity being performed by you and your medical diary date is due (meaning that your case has come up for review), Social Security will still periodically review your disability from a medical standpoint.
How does Social Security conduct a Social Security disability review (continuing medical review)? When it is time for your medical review, Social Security will contact you by mail to schedule an office or telephone appointment, or perhaps they will just send the forms you need to fill out and return (Of course, if you have difficulty filling out the forms you should contact the claims representative who sent your forms to you and they can help you fill them out, either by phone or in person.).
Once Social Security has obtained a medical update, they will develop a complete twelve-month medical history from the information that you have provided and determine if there has been any medical improvement. Generally, there is no need to worry about a medical continuing review if you have not experienced an improvement in your medical condition or have not returned to work at a level that Social Security considers to be substantial gainful activity.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Social Security Disability Questions page