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Social Security Disability, Medical Improvement And Losing Your Benefits

Once you have been approved for Social Security Disability benefits due to being unable to work, you will continue to face periodic reviews of your case. The Social Security Administration recognizes that people sometimes experience an improvement in their medical condition, so the SSA conducts Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) to verify your health. If you have received a notice for an upcoming CDR, read on for what to expect from this process.

What Triggers a CDR?

Usually, a CDR is based on the time since your approval for SSDI or the time that has elapsed since your last triggering event, and cases are reviewed every 3-7 years. The younger you are, the more often you will face a CDR.

Sometimes it is the severity of the condition itself that triggers the CDR. For people with permanent and severe conditions, such as amputations or severe brain damage, the frequently could be less than every 7 years. If you have a condition that the SSA has deemed capable of showing improvement, you may face more frequent reviews than 3 years. As example of this type of condition is joint replacement, which often requires a long recovery, but is a condition that is expected to gradually improve under normal conditions.

Other triggering events:

  • You return to work.
  • You tell the SSA that your disability has improved.
  • The SSA is informed by a third-party of your improved condition.

The CDR process.

The SSA will send you one of two forms through the mail; the Disability Update Report is a shorter (2 page) form and the Continuing Disability Review Report is a longer (10 pages) form. You must fill out and return these forms, which asks questions about your medical condition, your doctor's visits and any tests you have had in the past year.

Once the SSA reviews the information you have submitted, together with any medical records they have obtained, they will close the review, and you will continue to receive benefits. If the SSA determines that you are able to return to work, your benefits will come to a stop.


If the SSA has determined that you are able to return to work, you can appeal this ruling. It's important to note that you can continue to receive your regular benefits during your appeal process, but you must file the request for reconsideration within 15 days after you first receive your letter from SSA informing you of their adverse decision.

Failing to appeal in the 15 days will mean that you must start the lengthy process of applying for Security Disability from the beginning. Due to the short time-line for this type of appeal, you should strongly consider seeking the assistance of a Social Security attorney to help you get your paperwork filed in time and to ensure that you continue to receive the benefits that you need.