The Social Security Administration keeps track of the medical status of some of its beneficiaries with what is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). CDRs take place for beneficiaries of both Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They are not the same as the financial review that people receiving SSI benefits undergo each year to verify their eligibility. This article will explain the frequency of CDRs, how they are carried out, and what to do in the wake of discontinuation of your benefits.
Typical CDR Cycles
If you are a Social Security Disability beneficiary under the age of fifty or one of those deemed likely to recover in a relatively short period of time (more than 12 months but likely in a few years), the SSA typically sets the first CDR for three years, or less, after benefits begin. In cases where recovery is expected to take a long time or continue permanently, the SSA typically sets CDR dates at five to seven years from the initial determination of disability. [Note: These are not hard and fast timelines! In some cases, the SSA might perform a CDR one or two years from the initial finding of disability, and in very rare cases, such as those where the claimant has a permanent injury, they might perform a CDR beyond seven years from the initial review.] After your initial SSA determination or review, and every subsequent time you undergo a CDR and are found eligible to continue receiving benefits, the SSA will let you know when to expect your next regular CDR.
CDRs In addition to the Regular Schedule
If you are, or have, a child receiving Supplemental Security Income, expect an automatic CDR at age 18. Newborn babies receiving SSI as a result of low-birth weight are also subject to a CDR at or before they reach their first birthday.
A CDR outside the regular review cycle may also take place if you:
go back to work (even part-time)
see satisfactory improvement in your medical condition (whether the beneficiary notifies SSA of these changes or their medical records indicate such changes)
fail to follow doctor-recommended treatment
fail to follow doctors’ recommendations regarding alcohol or substance abuse
become eligible for a new treatment
Completing the CDR Forms
When the SSA determines it is time for a continuing disability review, they will provide you with one of two forms. If you are sent a Short Form CDR (SSA-455-OCR-SM), it is most likely because the SSA assumes you are still disabled. This 2-page form is reviewed by a computer and only cases posing a question/concern will be passed on to a human reviewer. While there is no way to be certain that a Short CDR will not be passed on to a human reviewer at the SSA, if you complete this form accurately and there is no new information or change in your condition (from your address to your medical diagnoses/status), you will most likely to continue receiving your regular benefits.
If the SSA has a reason to believe you are not still disabled at the time of a CDR, or if your Short Form was bumped from the computer to a human reviewer, you will likely be sent a Long Form CDR (SSA-454-BK). After completing this form, SSA officials may require you to take further action to prove your continued eligibility for benefits. This could include providing additional records or having a medical or psychological examination. This could also include a review of any earnings that you have had.
My CDR determined that my disability has ended. Now what?
If a CDR finds you are no longer disabled, and thus no longer eligible for your SSDI and/or SSI benefits, you may still be unable to work and find yourself facing significant financial hardship. In such a situation, the SSA will send you a formal notice that your benefits are being discontinued; this document will include information on your appeal rights. If you decide to appeal the CDR determination and do so within the first 10 days after receiving your notice, you will continue to receive benefits throughout the appeal process.
For Questions about or Help with the CDR Process
The attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson are committed to serving the recipients of Social Security benefits and all those suffering from disabilities that prevent them from earning a meaningful income. For a free case evaluation, call us at 1-800-533-6845, or chat with us online at www.GTALaw.net. We have offices in Asheville, Waynesville, Franklin, Spruce Pine and Rutherfordton, North Carolina, and Greenville, Gaffney and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Brian Buchanan, the author of this blog, is an Injury and Disability attorney with Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. He frequently represents clients before the Social Security Administration and in the state and Federal Courts.