A great sigh relief may have been your response to receipt of the notice from the Social Security Administration approving your claim for disability benefits. It may have taken months and the efforts of a disability lawyer at NY Disability, so it’s perfectly understandable for you to feel as though the fight is finally over. Unfortunately, federal law and regulations require periodic checks by the SSA to verify that anyone receiving SSD benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs remains eligible for them.
The official name given to the Social Security disability review process SSI and SSD recipients must periodically go through is “continuing disability review” or CDR. The purpose of a CDR is to verify that your health has not improved, and you are still disabled.
Receipt of a letter from the SSA that it’s time for review need be a cause of concern or alarm. This overview of CDRs and the changes you will notice in them as you get older will help to prepare you for the day you get the SSD review letter.
How often should you expect a CDR?
The notice that let you know about the approval of your application for disability benefits also told you when to expect your first SSD review. The frequency of a disability review depends on the nature, severity, and expectation of improvement of the medical condition causing the physical or mental impairment upon which it was determined that you were disabled and eligible for benefits.
Following is the general frequency of CDRs that you should expect to experience depending on your specific medical condition:
- Improvement expected: A medical condition expected to improve based on its nature and severity will be reviewed for the first time within six to 18 months from the onset date of your disability. As a general rule, medical conditions known to respond well to medication, surgery or other forms of treatment would be classified in the improvement expected category. Examples include certain forms of cancer and injuries that respond well to surgery, but their lengthy period of physical and rehabilitative therapy typically take a year or longer before a person is no longer disabled.
- Improvement possible: If improvement in the medical condition is possible, but when it may happen cannot be predicted, you will be scheduled for a CDR about every three years.
- Improvement not expected: Based on the science and medical knowledge currently available, some medical conditions are scheduled for a CDR about every seven years. Examples include sickle cell disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia and Crohn’s disease.
The frequency of scheduling CDRs may change with the development of new tests, medical advancements and treatment protocols. Another factor affecting how frequently Social Security reviews your claim is your age.
SSD review after age 50
The ability of a person to “bounce back” from an injury or illness becomes less likely as a person ages. When evaluating whether your medical condition allows you to work, Social Security assesses your residual functional capacity. A worker older than 50 may be approved for a continuation of benefits after a CDR.
Residual functional capacity represents the work you are capable of doing given limitations imposed by the pain and other symptoms you continue to experience. Social Security first determines whether your RFC allows you to do any type of work that you did in the past. If not, it uses your RFC assessment along with other factors, including your age, education and work experience to determine whether you can, perhaps with vocational training, adjust to any other type of work that may exist.
By making your age a factor in the RFC assessment process, Social Security recognizes that the aging process can make it difficult for an older worker to transition into a new line of work, particularly after an extended time away from the workplace. The fact that employers may be less inclined to spend the time and money needed to train a new worker on a person who may be eligible for early retirement benefits at age 62.
SSD review after age 60
The factors that weigh in your favor at an SSD review after age 50 also apply to an SSD review after age 60. Not only are you closer to full retirement, but you have the ability to receive early retirement benefits from Social Security at age 62, which makes it even less likely employers would commit to hiring and training you.
Get help with Social Security benefits and CDRs
If you need help with any issue related to Social Security disability benefits. Applying for retirement benefits at 62 results in a monthly payment that will be 25% to 30% less than what you would receive by waiting for full retirement age. The reduction is permanent and continues after you reach full retirement age, so there is an advantage to applying for SSD rather than early retirement.