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How Long Does Social Security Disability Review Take?

Last updated: April 12, 2023

Social security disability reviews can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months or more, depending on whether you received the short or the long form. It may take longer if you're subjected to a full medical review.

As you know, the SSA routinely reviews the medical condition of people receiving disability benefits. The agency calls this a "Continuing Disability Review" (CDR). The frequency depends on how likely you are to recover and start working again.

When it's time for your review, the SSA will send you forms by mail. These forms contain questions about your health, activities, and how often you visit a doctor. You must fill up this form and mail it back to the SSA. These forms come in two types: the short form or mailers and the long form.

Most people receiving SSDI and SSI benefits receive the short form. But if you are expected to improve in the short run, you'll most likely receive the long form.

Those with disability claims who received the short form typically get a letter from the SSA one to three months after they mailed it back to the agency. At the same time, long-form recipients must undergo a full medical review that usually takes several months. There are also disability recipients who initially get the short form, followed by a long one. In these rare cases, the process can take six months or more.

Why Is My Social Security Disability Being Reviewed?

Though most disability recipients are disabled, some bad eggs try to take advantage of the system. You've probably heard reports about people who have recovered and started working but still receive disability benefits. Or those who have faked their disability to get benefits.

Remember that social security disability benefits are meant to assist people with disabilities. Unlike workers' compensation, it is federally funded. So the government must ensure that those approved for disability are qualified. Having many non-disabled people on the SSA's disability payroll will deprive those who need it the most.

So if you received a social security disability review notice, know it's just routine. It doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong with your claim. However, your answers to the questionnaire may affect your benefits.

What Happens During A Social Security Disability Review?

As mentioned, the SSA will mail you a form once your schedule for disability review is up. What happens next will depend on whether you receive the short or long form.

The Short Form

A short form or mailer is officially called a Disability Update Report. In most cases, it's just the SSA's way of keeping tabs on its disability recipients. But sometimes, the agency also uses it to determine if the recipient needs a continuing disability review.

The form contains questions about:

  • How often do you visit the doctor
  • Whether your health has improved
  • Recent training you've attended (if any)
  • Whether you're following the prescribed treatment
  • Whether your doctor has discussed the possibility of you going back to work

If you changed your address, have left the country, or lost your form in the mail, you can also complete the Disability Update Report online. After mailing it back to the SSA, you'll get a letter informing you of their decision. If they say that a medical review is not needed at this time, your CDR will be deferred until your next review period.

But if your answers on the form make the SSA doubt your eligibility for disability benefits, they may order a full medical review.

The Long Form

People with a high chance of recovery usually get the long form or the Continuing Disability Report (Form SSA454). You'll have to go through a CDR and a full medical review if you receive this.

The form asks more extensive questions about your disability and whether you've worked since your last review. It also requires you to list all the doctors, clinics, or hospitals you've visited. The SSA will then request your medical records from them.

Since the CDR process involves a full medical review, the disability decision can take several months.

How Often Can You Expect A Disability Review?

If you are expected to improve, they'll schedule your review about eighteen months after you get disabled. If improvement is only possible but not expected, your condition will be reviewed every three years. When your condition is permanent, expect a disability review every seven years.

Will It Stop My Disability Benefits?

Most of the time, it won't, but it's possible, depending on your case. Two things can stop your disability benefits.

  1. If Social Security finds out that you have medically improved and are no longer considered disabled, they deem you ineligible.
  2. Suppose they found out you've engaged in a substantial gainful activity (SGA). This means you can already earn what you used to before your disability. Or you're earning more than the SGA threshold. The amount changes every year but for 2021, it's $1,310 per month.

In general, if you're still disabled and unable to work, you won't have to worry about losing your benefits.

Can I Ignore My Notice?

You might have thought about ignoring your disability review notice. But that's one thing you should never do.

Disregarding a review notice can result in losing your benefits. It's much better to comply and go through the review. Besides, if you are still disabled, you'll most likely keep your benefits.

Why Hire A Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney

Experienced disability attorneys have decades of litigation experience in Workers' Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. Their experience and continued success when fighting for their clients put them among the area's most trusted workers' compensation attorneys. They specialize in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.

You also have the option to book a free consultation whenever convenient. Past and potential clients recognize the unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges leading firms offer.

Applying for Social Security's cash benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article on whether you can get partial disability benefits. To learn more, please visit DisabilityHelp.org today!

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Cheri Hermanson
Cheri leads our team of writers in producing the best quality content there is regarding society and disability, most especially those that helps ease the quality of life for our differently-abled loved ones.
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