Social Security Disability Benefits---Part 3 of 3: Continuing Disability Reviews

September 29,2015
imgpsh_fullsize (15)

Entitlement to Social Security benefits may come to an end for a number of reasons. I previously discussed medical improvement prior to the resolution of a claim, which can potentially entitle one to a closed period of disability. In the last blog, the focus was on a return to work after benefits have been granted, resulting in a cessation of benefits due to work activity. Benefits may also come to an end after the Social Security Administration conducts its own independent review.

A person receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits can expect to be reviewed every four or five years. This is the Administration’s way of finding out if a payee is still “disabled,” and hence, still eligible for benefits. They will start by sending a written notification announcing their intent to conduct a Continuing Disability Review (“CDR”). Just as medical evidence is required to establish initial eligibility, it is also necessary to prove ongoing entitlement.

If you need your benefits to continue, it is imperative that you remain under treatment by a medical doctor while you are on disability. Far too often, I’ve spoken to clients who tell me that they’ve stopped seeing their doctor because that doctor advised them that “there was nothing more he/she could do for me.” While this may in fact be true, it will under no circumstances satisfy the Social Security Administration when they ask for proof that a beneficiary remains disabled. The Administration may require you to see one or more of their medical consultants while they review your continued eligibility. Should that doctor’s opinion be unfavorable (as is often the case), the only way to combat it is by having a supportive opinion from your own doctor. Should the Social Security Administration have an unopposed medical opinion, it is highly likely that your benefits will cease.

The Continuing Disability Review process is determined in large part by medical support, but procedural matters can require the assistance of qualified legal representation. However, the most important thing a recipient of Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits can do for himself is to continue seeing a medical doctor.

While medical improvement is ultimately the best a disabled person can hope for, there are certainly no guarantees that medical treatment will help. However, often thanks to talented medical professionals, treatment is successful and a disabled individual is able to return to work. This can happen at various times, be it while a Social Security application is pending, or after benefits have been granted.

Brian Anson