Continuing Disability Reviews - Don't Panic

One thing that many Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries dread is getting the letter notifying them that their case is about to be reviewed. These reviews are called Continuing Disability Reviews or CDRs. Most Social Security beneficiaries will have their case reviewed at some point so let’s take a look at exactly what that means. When someone is approved for any type of disability benefits, a diary set for that case. The diary is a time frame usually 1 year to 7 years that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will wait before they review the case to see if the beneficiary has medically improved to the point that they are no longer disabled under SSA’s rules. When the diary expires then the case is assigned to be reviewed for medical improvement. When a beneficiary gets the CDR letter there will be some forms to complete. The Social Security Administration will want to know about recent medical treatment, any changes in medical conditions, any new medical conditions that may have developed, and any vocational training or work. The beneficiary may be sent for a Consultative Exam by one of SSA’s doctors to get an update assessment of the beneficiary’s condition. SSA will then review the new information to see if there has been significant medical improvement. The vast majority of CDRs result in the disability benefits continuing uninterrupted.

If you are receiving disability benefits and get your CDR letter, you should just cooperate. Fill out the forms as completely as you can and return them timely. Attend the Consultative Exam if one is scheduled for you. Failing to do so will get your benefits ceased quickly for failing to cooperate. The odds are greatly in your favor that your benefits will continue if you just do what you are asked to do. If you receive a letter that SSA has found that you have medically improved and that your benefits will be ceased, IMMEDIATELY go to your local office and appeal the cessation. If you appeal the decision within 10 DAYS of the letter your benefits will continue during the appeal process.

Most beneficiaries will see their benefits continue as a result of their CDRs. So if you get the dreaded CDR letter, don’t panic. Just get a fresh pen, a cool drink and comfy chair and get to work on those forms. Chances are you’ll be fine.

Ticket to Work Program

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program for disability beneficiaries to assist them to return to work. It’s called the Ticket to Work Program. Beneficiaries are often unwilling to return to work for fear of losing their benefits and, more importantly, their healthcare if the job does not work out. This program is VOLUNTARY; no beneficiaries are required to participate. SSA sends the eligible beneficiary a letter (the Ticket), the beneficiary can then take the Ticket to a local agency to obtain services such as job coaching for assistance in finding and keeping a job. The Ticket to Work Program includes work incentives which allow beneficiaries to keep cash benefits and Medicare or Medicaid while testing their ability to work. Each state has a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) project where beneficiaries can find out how their participation in the program could affect their disability benefits.

While a beneficiary is actively using their Ticket they can continue to get their healthcare benefits, return to monthly benefits through the expedited reinstatement process and will not have their case reviewed to see if they have medically improved. This program allows beneficiaries to try to find and keep employment without the fear of losing benefits during the attempt. The rules around this program are complicated but the program can provide support to help some SSA disability beneficiaries get back to work if and when they are ready.

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Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.