The Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically conducts a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) to ensure beneficiaries meet the medical requirements necessary for disability benefits. If the SSA determines that your condition has significantly improved and you can return to full-time work, they may decide to cease your benefits. However, remember you have recourse if you find yourself in this situation.
The appeals process at a glance
Should you disagree with the SSA’s decision, it’s important to know there are steps you can take. The SSA provides an appeals process to reconsider its decision. Here’s a brief overview of the procedure available to you:
- Reconsideration: This is the first step where a new team who didn’t participate in the initial decision reviews your case. You have the opportunity to present new evidence or objections during this stage.
- An administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing: If the reconsideration doesn’t yield a favorable result, you can escalate your case to an ALJ. This judge, uninvolved in the initial decision, will examine all the evidence and make a decision.
- Appeals Council (AC) review: If the ALJ’s decision doesn’t favor you, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. The Council has the discretion to review your case, return it to the ALJ or decline the review.
- Federal Court review: As a final resort, if you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision or if they decline to review your case, you can file a lawsuit in a federal court. This could result in your case being sent back to the SSA for further review or a direct overturning of the SSA’s decision.
While reviews typically follow a schedule—every 6 to 18 months, three years or seven years—they can occur unexpectedly, albeit with prior notification from the SSA. Still, this unpredictability can make preparation challenging.
Navigating the process effectively
Dealing with the CDR process and potential appeals can feel overwhelming. But, a discontinuation of benefits is not the end of your journey. You must understand your rights regarding your disability benefits and the appeals process so you can actively advocate for yourself, ensuring you continue receiving the support necessary for your well-being.