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How are disability benefits reviewed?

The Social Security Administration conducts periodic reviews of recipients who are receiving disability benefits every three years to determine whether they are still eligible for blind or disability benefits. The review is based upon the type and severity of the claimant's medical condition and the likelihood of improvement. If no improvement is expected, the SSA will review the case every seven years.

Claimants may initially apply for Social Security Disability benefits if they are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in their death. Medical requirements that meet the definition of a disability are specific.

The SSA notifies SSD recipients by mail when their case is being reviewed and invites them to go to their local Social Security office. Claimants are asked about their medical condition and whether there has been improvement. The SSA also requests information about medical treatment that was received and any employment since the SSA determined that the recipient was disabled.

A Disability Determination Services disability examiner will request that the recipient's medical providers submit reports. The examiner will ask recipients to undergo a medical examination, at no cost to the recipient, if this medical information is not current or incomplete.

SSD benefits will continue if a medical condition has not improved and still prevents a recipient from engaging in work. The SSA will suspend benefits if the medical evidence shows improvement in the recipient's medical condition and the recipient is able to regularly engage in work.

A claimant may appeal a decision and ask the SSA to review the case again. The SSA must provide written notification of a recipient's appeal rights with its decision.

This review process has large implications. The SSA has cited studies that a 20-year-old worker has a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled before reaching the age of retirement.

Source: Social Security Administration, "How we review your disability benefits," Accessed April 18, 2016

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Melissa A. Proudian, Attorney at Law
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