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Monday, December 26, 2016

Reviews of Social Security Disability Benefits

Once I have qualified for Social Security Disability do I remain qualified for the rest of my life?

The process of applying for Social Security Disability is a complicated, time-consuming one. It would be nice if once the government has determined you to be deserving of benefits as a result of your disability you could rest on your laurels. Government entitlements, however, are never that simple to hold onto. No matter how severe your disability is, the Social Security Administration will put you through your paces periodically. This is why it is so important to have a highly qualified Social Security Disability claims attorney at your side, both when you are first applying for benefits and later when you have to defend your right to continue to receive them.

How frequently will my case be reviewed?

The Social Security Administration will review your case at variable intervals depending on the way your disability has been evaluated at the outset, what impairments you have, and whether they are expected to show improvement, worsen, or remain static. During the review process, your current medical records will be carefully examined to determine whether your condition has changed since the last time your case was reviewed. If you have several disabling conditions, Social Security will consider the combined effect of all of them on your ability to work. 

If your disabling condition was initially expected to improve, your first review will probably take place 6 to 18 months after the date you were originally designated disabled. If improvement of your condition is possible, but not probable, you will typically be re-evaluated approximately once every 3 years. If improvement is not anticipated, your case may be reviewed as infrequently as once every 7 years. You will always be notified by mail of an upcoming review and asked to visit your local Social Security office. 

When you attend a review, you will need to bring the following information with you:

  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of all your doctors
  • Patient record numbers for any hospitals or treatment centers that have provide you with care
  • Records relating to any work you have performed since your last review

At the review session you will be asked about the progress of your medical condition and your records will be perused by both a medical consultant and an experienced disability examiner. If this team considers the medical evidence you provide inconclusive or not current enough, they may ask you to undergo a special medical examination at no cost. If you disagree with the decision made at your review, you can appeal it to a governmental agent who has no previous knowledge of your case and is, therefore, expected to be objective.

If you are still dissatisfied with the decision regarding your disabled status, you have a few other avenues of appeal open to you: you may request a hearing before an administrative judge, and then an Appeals Council, and, eventually a Federal Court. This last will require you to bring a civil action against the agency.

Can my benefits actually be discontinued?

Usually this only happens if your medical condition has improved to a marked degree and it is demonstrable that you now have the ability to work regularly and support yourself.

Can I try working to see if I'm able to work without forfeiting my benefits?

Yes. Social Security has regulations in place that permit you to work for a trial period of up to 9 months with unlimited earnings while still receiving you full benefits. Other rules are in place to permit you to receive benefits and continue to be enrolled in Medicare while you work, as long as your income remains low.


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