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Have you received a Continuing Disability Review Notification?

July 11, 2016

If you currently receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, please understand that there is no such thing as permanent disability guaranteeing future payment of benefits.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) will periodically review your case to see if your disabling medical impairments ended or improved and if you can return to work.  This review process is called a continuing disability review or “CDR”.

As we advised you when we succeeded in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits for you, it is important to continue to see your doctors and to continue to complain of those legitimate conditions which are preventing you from returning to work.  If you do not make your legitimate complaints known to all of your doctors, Social Security can cherry pick what it wants and try to say you have improved and then the effort to stop your benefits will commence.

That is why we advise you when a claim is awarded that a state agency or administrative law judge may suggest a review in the near future, usually within 12 – 24 months.  Nevertheless, it sometimes can take 5 – 7 years after the initial award of benefits before the SSA reviews your claim again.  During this time you must regularly treat with your doctor, provided you have legitimate complaints of continuing disability.

Other triggers for a CDR could be a return to work, medical evidence that a previously disabling condition has improved (example:  cancer now in full remission), or information from someone such as a doctor or even a neighbor that your conditions are no longer disabling or severe.  There is no way to anticipate when a CDR will happen and these reviews are at the sole discretion of the SSA.

Lately, there has been a lot of underserved bad press concerning the Social Security Disability system and we know that this is not because our clients in any way attempt to game the system.  Nevertheless, as result, in January 2014 the SSA has initiated a review of thousands of cases in the Pittsburgh area due to unwarranted concerns over abuse of the system.  The SSA now employs a fraud investigation unit that is looking at your Facebook and other social media accounts.  In other very limited circumstances, they are also conducting surveillance.

If you are currently receiving SSDI benefits you may receive a letter asking for updates on your medical conditions, your recent medical treatment, and current medications.  A response is required within the time frame provided by the SSA.  You need to keep in contact with the SSA or else they can and will terminate your benefits.

If you are asked to attend a physical or mental examination with one of the SSA’s doctors, you must attend that appointment.  If you do not attend or reschedule the examination, the SSA could stop your benefits alleging that you failed to cooperate.

Consequently, if you receive a letter scheduling you for a CDR or if you receive a letter stopping your benefits due to such a review, you must do the following things immediately:

  • Call an attorney that can help you prove to a judge that nothing has changed and that you still have the same disabling medical conditions that previously prevented you from working.
  • If you do not want your benefits to stop while you are waiting for a hearing you must notify the SSA in writing within 10 days of that dated letter notifying you of the stop in benefits.
  • If you choose to continue your benefits and lose at the hearing you will owe money back to the SSA and the payment of future benefits will stop.
  • If you do not notify the SSA within the 10 day deadline that you are choosing for your benefits to continue while you wait for a hearing your monthly benefits will stop.

Although your case has been won, the Government may try to take away your benefit.  The only way to stop it is to make sure you are continuing to treat for legitimate conditions with your health care practitioners.  If you do that, you stand a good chance of making sure your SSDI benefits continue.

In short, the stakes are high and you need to make smart and quick decisions.  Rothman Gordon has been providing legal services to members of the Pittsburgh community and the surrounding counties including but not limited to Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Bedford, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties for over 60 years. While we cannot accept every continuing disability review case, it is important that you notify us so we can try to direct you to the right entity in the event that we are unable to assist you.

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