Simple Ways to Successfully Complete a Continuing Disability Review

Receiving Social Security disability benefits can provide essential financial support for individuals with limitations that prevent them from working full-time. However, these benefits are subject to periodic reviews known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to ensure ongoing eligibility.

A CDR can be stressful, but by understanding the process and taking proactive steps, you can significantly increase your chances of a successful review.

What is a Continuing Disability Review (CDR)?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts CDRs to verify that individuals receiving disability benefits continue to meet the program’s medical and financial requirements.

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The SSA assesses whether your physical or mental impairments remain disabling and prevent you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA), which is work that generates income above a specific threshold. The frequency of CDRs depends on the severity and expected prognosis of your condition.

  • Reviews for Conditions Expected to Improve: If the SSA anticipates improvement in your condition, they may schedule a review:
    • Within 6 to 18 months from the initial disability determination.
    • Every three years thereafter.
  • Reviews for Conditions Expected Not to Improve: For individuals with impairments unlikely to improve, the SSA conducts reviews:
    • Every three to seven years, depending on the specific condition.

7 Proven Strategies to Pass Your Continuing Disability Review

By following these steps, you can effectively prepare for your CDR and demonstrate the continuing impact of your disability:

  1. Seek Guidance from a Social Security Disability Attorney: An experienced attorney can provide invaluable support throughout the CDR process. They can ensure you understand your rights, navigate the complexities of the review, and gather the necessary documentation to strengthen your case.
  2. Adhere to Your Treatment Plan: Following your doctor’s recommendations is crucial. Regular medical appointments, adherence to medication schedules, and participation in prescribed therapies demonstrate your commitment to managing your disability. If your doctor suggests changes to your treatment plan, discuss them openly and obtain documented justification for any modifications.
  3. Maintain Open Communication with Your Doctors: Regular communication with your healthcare providers is essential. Keep your doctors informed about any changes in your condition, symptoms, or limitations. Consider journaling your medical appointments, treatment experiences, and daily struggles to provide your doctor with comprehensive information for their reports to the SSA.
  4. Organize and Maintain Accurate Medical Records: The SSA relies heavily on medical documentation to assess your eligibility. Gather and meticulously maintain complete records of your medical history, including doctor visit summaries, test results, treatment plans, and medication lists. Ensure your doctor completes all necessary paperwork for the SSA.
Simple Ways to Successfully Complete a Continuing Disability Review

5. Submit New Medical Evidence Promptly: As part of the CDR process, you are required to submit any new medical evidence related to your disability that pertains to the past twelve months. This could include doctor’s notes, test results, or specialist evaluations. Do not delay submitting this documentation; timely submission ensures the SSA has a complete picture of your current condition.

6. Fill Out the CDR Form with Honesty and Accuracy: The SSA will send you either a short-form (SSA-455) or long-form (SSA-454) Continuing Disability Review Report. Answer all questions on the form honestly and thoroughly.
A truthful and detailed account of your disability is vital for maintaining your benefits. If you have any uncertainties while completing the form, consult with your attorney or a disability advocate.

7. Keep the SSA Updated on Your Contact Information: The SSA uses mail to communicate with beneficiaries regarding CDRs. Ensure they have your current mailing address to avoid missing important notices or deadlines. If you move, promptly notify the SSA of your new address to prevent delays or disruptions in your benefits.

Short-Form vs. Long-Form Continuing Disability Review Reports

The type of CDR form you receive depends on the expected prognosis for your condition:

  • Short-Form (SSA-455): This simplified, two-page form focuses on your current medical condition and treatment plan. It typically applies to individuals with disabilities unlikely to improve significantly.
  • Long-Form (SSA-454): This more comprehensive, ten-page form resembles the initial application for disability benefits. It delves deeper into your medical history, treatment experiences, and current functional limitations. The SSA sends this form to individuals whose conditions might improve over time.
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Warning Signs on the Short-Form (SSA-455)

When completing the short form (SSA-455), be cautious about specific questions that could raise red flags for the SSA and potentially jeopardize your benefits. These include:

  • Mark the box stating your doctor has cleared you to return to work.
  • Indicating that your health is significantly better now than when you were approved for benefits.
  • Reporting

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