Social Security has two types of review forms they like to send out.
One is called a Disability Update Report. People like to call this the “short form”. It’s short!
The other is called a Continuing Disability Review. People like to call this the “long form.” It’s long!
Reviews usually happen 3 or 5 or 7 years. A different review cycle is set for each person. However, they are sometimes sent out late. Sometimes many years late.
About The Short Form
The Disability Update Report is a quick form that Social Security sends out to help them decide whether they are going to do a Continuing Disability Review for you this year.
The Short Form is not a medical review. It is just a little form they use to decide if they want to do a medical review. When you get a short form, Social Security does not contact your doctor or look at any of your medical records.
No one gets cut off disability because of a short form. The worst thing that can happen is they will follow up with a long form, and the best thing that can happen is they will just approve you. Usually, the best thing happens. 🙂
About The Long Form
After you get the short form, Social Security will either send you a long form or (most of the time) nothing more will happen and you will just go on with your life until next time you come up for review.
If you’d like to learn more about the long form, check out: Everything You Need to Know About Social Security Disability Reviews
Short Form Magic Trick
Social Security has put a system in place where most short forms are processed by a computer that will scan in the boxes on the form. This computer has the ability to automatically approve you, without ever being seen by a human!
Here’s a page where someone has posted a copy of his completed Disability Update Report. (Scroll down a bit to see the complete form).
As you can see, his answers are very quick, brief, and simple! Your answers don’t have to match his, but this gives you a good idea of how someone might approach a short form.
The Quick & Easy Review
The short form is a very simple form that only takes five minutes to complete. It is important to answer all questions honestly. According to the Social Security policy manual, there is a good chance the computer will automatically approve you if:
- You are not working
- You are not in school
- Your condition has not improved (same or worse)
- Your doctor said you cannot work or your doctor did not talk about working
- You have three recent doctor’s appointments or three recent hospital visits
- No remarks and nothing written in the margins
- No attachments
- The form is signed
- All questions are answered
- You do not have any other unresolved Social Security issues
- Do not use this form to change your address
If you don’t have all the things above, there is a chance the computer will still approve you automatically, or there is a chance you will be sent a long form.
The Longer & Slower Review
If your condition has improved or you do not have recent doctor’s visits, there is a decent chance you will be sent a long form for more review.
If you are working or in school, there is a chance you will be sent a long form, but also a chance your short form will just pass without problems.
If you have issues with your short form, please read: How to Troubleshoot the Short Form
Before Filling Out the Form
Make a copy. This way if you check the wrong box of make a mistake, you will have a blank copy to work with.
Remarks and Attachments
Most disability advocates recommend that you do not include any remarks or attachments on your Short Form. If you just fill in the boxes, you can let the computer do its thing. The computer may be able to easily approve you!
If you include remarks or attachments, your form won’t go to the computer. It will go to a human who will have to read everything you wrote and make a decision. This may slow down the process and take a lot longer, but at the end of the day the decision will likely be the same either way.
Tell the Truth
It is important to answer honestly, especially about working. Social Security checks IRS records to see if people are working. They can also check bank accounts.
After Filling Out the Form
Before you send back your short form, make a copy for yourself.
What Happens Next
If everything goes perfectly, and the computer just immediately approves you… it’s still going to take about three months. If you included remarks or attachments it’s going to take about six months or longer. Be patient.
Don’t worry if it is taking a while, it doesn’t mean anything. If a lot of time passes, you can call and ask for an update. Sometimes paperwork gets lost.
Remember, you are not just waiting to find out if they are going to send you a long form. They cannot cut anyone off based on the short form.
How Do I Know if I am Approved?
If your review is approved, they will send you a bewildering letter that says: “We sent you a letter telling you we were going to review your case, however we do not need to review your case at this time.”
This means: “You are approved, but we don’t know how to write in clear English.”
The Evil 5% Rule
90% your short forms are easily approved
5% are selected for more review
5% of the time, even if your short form is perfect, your file will be randomly selected and they will send you a long form review to fill out. Don’t worry if this happens to you randomly. It does not mean anything about your case.
You may not be sent a long form review, but there is a chance you will be.
Since you know this could happen, it’s very important to be prepared and plan ahead. Do not wait until you get the long form!!! Here’s how to make sure you are ready for the long form continuing disability review.
Anything else interesting here?
As a matter of fact, yes! Bet you didn’t know your form contains a secret code. You really do not need to know this, but if you are curious… You can find out all about your secret code here.
If you would like to read some excruciating and impenetrable instructions on how the Short Form is processed, here you can find the policy manual for the short form.
What Do You Think?
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Updated May 2018. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons: