Going through the process to secure Social Security Disability benefits is difficult. Once you receive your approval, you likely feel a huge sense of relief.
However, the Social Security Administration reported in 2021 that it paid out SSDI benefits to more than 9.2 million people while ending benefits for 831,220. Even though you get benefits now, the SSA does take actions to continuously evaluate your case, which could lead to them stopping.
The SSA conducts periodic reviews of SSDI cases through a process called a Continuing Disability Review. The purpose of a CDR is to evaluate whether your medical condition improved to the extent that you can engage in substantial gainful activity or if there have been changes in your medical condition that may affect your eligibility.
The frequency of CDRs depends on the severity of your medical condition and the likelihood of improvement. There are three categories for review:
Medical Improvement Expected: If the SSA expects your condition to improve, it will review your case within six to 18 months after your disability onset date.
Medical Improvement Possible: For conditions the SSA believes may improve but does not expect to, reviews occur about every three years.
Medical Improvement Not Expected: If your condition is unlikely to improve, reviews typically take place every five to seven years.
To determine your continuing eligibility, the SSA will require updated medical evidence. This evidence includes reports from your treating physicians, medical tests and any changes in your condition or treatment plans. Providing accurate and up-to-date medical documentation is crucial during a CDR.
Engaging in substantial gainful activity is one of the key factors that can affect your SSDI eligibility. If you earn income above the SGA threshold, the SSA may consider you no longer disabled. It is important to report any work activity and income promptly to the SSA.
In some cases, the SSA may request a consultative examination to evaluate your medical condition. An independent medical professional will conduct the exam to assess your disability status.
Maintaining open communication with the SSA is important. Inform them promptly of any changes in your medical condition, treatment plans or work activity to ensure accurate assessments of your eligibility. You should also always promptly respond to any communications from the SSA.
While receiving SSDI benefits is a lifeline for many, it is important to be aware that continuing eligibility is subject to review. The SSA’s goal is to ensure that benefits go to those who genuinely need them.