How to Pass a Continuing Disability Review (7 Easy Ways)

Don’t risk losing your disability benefits. This easy guide gives you actionable steps on how to pass your Continuing Disability Review.

Continuing Disability Review Form

If you’re receiving disability benefits, you will likely need to participate in a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) periodically.

A CDR can be daunting, and you may have concerns about the review. The good news is you can take steps to make it easier. 

This guide explores seven easy ways to prepare for a successful CDR and maintain your eligibility for disability benefits. Let’s get started!

What Is a Continuing Disability Review (CDR)?

Continuing Disability Review (CDR) is a review process the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to ensure individuals remain eligible for benefits. 

The SSA periodically reviews your physical or mental impairments to determine if you continue to have a disabling medical condition. If the SSA determines you’re no longer disabled or blind, your benefits will stop.

Federal law requires the SSA to perform a medical CDR at least once every three years. However, if your medical condition is not expected to improve, they will review your case once every five to seven years.  

How to Pass a Continuing Disability Review (7 Easy Ways)

With these simple strategies, you can increase your chances of passing a CDR and continue receiving disability benefits.

Also Read: How Can I Increase My Chances of Getting Disability? (9 Ways)

1. Hire an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney

Hiring an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security Disability Attorney is a fantastic way to ensure you remain eligible for benefits.

A disability attorney will keep track of all the Continuing Disability Review requirements and ensure you’re prepared for success.

Also Read: How to Find a Good Disability Lawyer (9 Ways)

2. Follow Your Medical Treatment Protocol

To continue receiving disability benefits, you must follow your medical treatment protocol. Following your doctor’s medical recommendations shows the SSA you’re doing your best to improve your condition.

In contrast, the SSA will schedule a CDR or stop your benefits if you disobey your doctors or don’t follow treatment protocols. They can also ask your doctor for medical records or other evidence of your condition. 

In most cases, you will continue to receive benefits if your health hasn’t improved or your disability keeps you from working. Following your medical treatment protocol and keeping detailed medical evidence of your condition will ensure your continuing eligibility for disability benefits. 

3. Maintain Communication with Your Doctors

Maintaining communication with your doctors is integral to staying eligible for disability benefits. 

You must continually prove your medical condition prevents you from performing substantial work. As such, ongoing communication with your doctors is essential to proving your condition still exists.

For example, keep up with your appointments and inform your doctors of any changes in your health. You can also journal your medical appointments, treatments, medications, and symptoms. This will help your doctor in providing complete medical reports to the SSA.

Additionally, be honest with your doctor about changes in your lifestyle or activities that could affect your condition. For example, starting a new job or taking up a new hobby.

4. Keep Copies of Accurate and Complete Medical Documentation

Providing the SSA with the necessary medical documentation is crucial to prove your eligibility for disability benefits. 

The SSA will look at your medical records and supporting medical evidence. To improve your chances of passing a CDR, ensure your medical documentation is accurate, up-to-date, and detailed.

For example, keep records of doctor visits, medical test reports, treatment history, lab results, and other relevant documents. It’s also essential to ensure your doctor completes all necessary paperwork.

5. Submit All New Medical Evidence Before the Review

As a part of the CDR, you must submit all new medical evidence of your mental or physical disability from the past twelve months.

Remember, as a condition of receiving Social Security Disability, you must continue to meet with your doctors and yield their medical advice. 

6. Answer the Continuing Disability Review Form Honestly

You must answer the CDR form as honestly and thoroughly as possible. This form helps the SSA determine if you still meet the definition of disability. 

An accurate account of your disability is vital to ensure your best chances of maintaining your benefits. If your answers are suspicious, the SSA may ask you to undergo a more detailed review. This could result in having your disability benefits altered or denied.

7. Inform the SSA of Any Change in Address

The SSA will send you periodic notices and required CDR forms. For this reason, it’s vital to inform them if you change your address.

If you move and do not inform the SSA, this paperwork may go to the wrong address. As a result, you will lose your benefits if the CDR forms are not sent back in time.

In addition, it may take several months to file an appeal and get your benefits back.

Continuing Disability Review Short Form vs Long Form

The SSA will send you one of two CDR forms: 

Continuing Disability Review Short Form

If your condition is not likely to improve, you will get the “short form” called the SSA Disability Update Report or SSA-455.

The Disability Update Report is a simple, two-page form with seven short questions. Expect to answer questions about your medical condition and treatments.

Continuing Disability Review Long Form

If your condition is likely to improve, you may receive the “long form” called the Continuing Disability Review Report or SSA-454.

The Continuing Disability Review Report is a longer form similar to the initial application for benefits. It’s ten pages long and has more in-depth questions than the short form.

Expect to answer questions about your medical history for the past year, your medical conditions, the possibility of improvement, and your ability to work. 

What Are the Red Flags on an SSA-455 (Short Form)?

When filling out Form SSA-455, be cautious of questions that could affect your disability benefits.

Red flags on the form which alert SSA your condition is improving include:

  • Checking the box that states that your doctor has cleared you to work.
  • Checking the box that says your health is better now than when you were approved for benefits.
  • Entering earnings that exceed the Substantial Gainful Activity level.

What Happens After You File the CDR Form?

After you file the CDR form, the SSA will review your report and medical records. They will use the information to ensure you meet the medical and financial eligibility requirements to receive disability benefits. 

Next, the SSA will decide whether to continue or terminate your disability benefits.

If the SSA terminates your disability benefits after a CDR, you can appeal this decision

Continuing Disability Review FAQ

Common questions about passing Continuing Disability Reviews.

Should I Worry about a Continuing Disability Review?

Generally, you should not worry about a Continuing Disability Review if you’re still disabled and can not work. 

However, if your disability has improved or resolved entirely, the SSA may terminate your disability benefits. If you no longer meet the definition of disabled, the SSA will send a notice of the cessation determination.

What Triggers a Continuing Disability Review?

The Social Security Administration states that the frequency of reviews depends on the nature and severity of your medical condition and whether it’s expected to improve. 

Generally, the SSA will conduct a medical review:

  • Six to 18 months after the date you became disabled if the SSA expects your disability to improve
  • Every three years, if improvement to your condition is possible.
  • Every seven years, if improvement to your condition is not possible.

Note: Your initial award notice will tell you when to expect your first medical review.

How Long Does a Continuing Disability Review Take?

Short-form Continuing Disability Reviews can take one to three months to complete. 

Long-form Continuing Disability Reviews can take six months to a year.

Note: Be sure to send the form and proper medical evidence on time to avoid delays.

At What Age Does Social Security Disability Stop Reviewing?

The SSA will stop reviewing your disability at age 65 once your retirement benefits begin. Retirement benefits do not require a Continuing Disability Review.

What Are the Chances of Passing a Continuing Disability Review?

The reversal for disability benefits rate is very low. Generally speaking, most people no longer eligible for benefits after a Continuing Disability Review are because of medical improvements in their disability.