How to Troubleshoot (Short Form CDR)

Robin Mead

If you don’t have the perfect short form, don’t worry, you can still pass your review. What’s the problem you are bumping up against?

I don’t know how the short form works or how the decision gates made

Here’s everything you need to know about How to Fill Out a Disability Update Report so you will have no problems.

Uh oh! I included remarks and attachments!!

Don’t worry! It just means your form won’t be read by the computer. It will be read by a human and will take longer to process. As long as nothing bad is in the attachments, you can still be approved.

Uh oh! I have been working!!!

Don’t worry, you can still pass your review. If you have been working, there is a greater chance they will send you a long form CDR to fill out. Here’s How to Handle Disability Reviews While Working

Uh oh! I have been in school!!!

This may not actually cause any problems. The computer may still automatically approve you, or you may be sent a long form CDR. Either way, the most important thing is to keep up good medical records. If you need any disability accommodations or special assistance for your school work, it’s a great idea to get this in writing and keep a copy. Work with your school’s disability services department.

Uh oh! My condition has improved!!!

When you decide which box to check about improvement, make sure you answer about the condition(s) you were approved for. For example, if you were approved for bipolar, and later got cancer, it does not matter what happened with the cancer – answer about the bipolar.

If you do not know what you were approved for, you can call Social Security and ask or you can use your secret code to find out.

If your disability condition has improved, and this is written in your doctor’s records, it may be more difficult to pass a CDR. If you are not able to pass the CDR based on your original conditions, then they will also consider any new conditions you have developed.

If you still have the same severe impairments, but it is being diagnosed in a different way, this is usually not a problem. This is especially common in mental health. For example, if your diagnosis changes from OCD to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, these both fall under the same Social Security category and will be considered the same.

If you are not approved your first try, make sure to appeal. Always always always appeal and keep appealing. Most appeals are approved and most people who are cut off are people who give up and stop appealing. The biggest mistake people make is not appealing, or only appealing one time.

Uh oh! I don’t have three recent doctor visits!!

If you are able, it will help you to start seeing the doctor again as soon as possible.

There is a possibility you will be sent a long form review sometime in the next 3 – 12 months. Here’s how you can prepare: Everything You Need to Know About Social Security Disability Reviews

It is not necessary to enclose any remarks with a short form, but if you get a long form review, you will have the opportunity to explain why If you have a good reason why you were unable to get to the doctor, in some cases Social Security will accept this. Here’s some information on Explaining why you were not able to get to the doctor

If possible, it is a good idea to go back to the same doctor you saw in the past because that person already has a treating history with him. Make sure the doctor you see is an “acceptable medical source.”

Here is what Jane did: “I wanted to discuss my condition and the short form questions with my doctor, but I could not get an appointment soon enough. I called Social Security and asked for a thirty day extension so I would have time to meet with my doctor. They yes to the extension.”

Some people have conditions that cannot be treated. For example, blindness or lost limbs. If your condition cannot be treated, you can explain this to social security, or you can go to the doctor to confirm that you still have the condition and it cannot be treated. It will help if your doctor is willing to clearly write that there are no possible treatments for your condition and regular visits are not medically necessary.

Social Security guidelines state that appointments within the past two years are considered recent. So if you have seen your doctor at least three times within the past two years, this may be acceptable – as long as visits were for the condition you were approved for. (for example, If you got approved for bipolar, it does not count if you went to the doctor for the flu).

Of course, it is better if you can see your doctor more frequently than this, but it depends on your condition and how often your doctor recommends you come for treatment. If you have a gap in your treatment, you may wish to start seeing your doctor very regularly to get back on track.

If you did not have standard doctor visits but instead went to the hospital for your condition, under the doctors section you can list the dates when you met with doctors in the hospital.

What Happens Next

After your short form is reviewed two things can happen:

  1. You can be approved or
  2. You can be sent a long form. How to Complete a Continuing Disability Review 

What Do You Think?

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. 

Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: 

4 thoughts on “How to Troubleshoot (Short Form CDR)”

  1. Hi,
    I enjoyed your article very much. Your website is very well done. I am wondering if these above guidelines would also apply to a Second short form CDR review? I just received a second CDR short form. It says SSA-455-OCR-SM (10-2013) at the bottom FYI. This is the same one I got a little over a year ago. Do you think checking Same on the line about describing health would cause a Long form review? I have heard this rumor. I don’t see why but am not sure if one would want to check Same or Worse. I have definitely not improved. Of course I always answer honestly but what is your opinion on a Second CDR form? I guess I am wondering if a second “Same” would lead to an automatic eject by computer for human review.

    Thank you so much!


    1. I can’t say for certain. But I have seen plenty of people check “same” and have no problems. It’s not like everyone is going to get worse every year! 🙂


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