How to Complete a Disability Update Report (SSA-455-BK)

Every so often, Social Security will conduct a medical review to see if you are still disabled.

This generally happens every 3 or 5 or 7 years. It is called a “Continuing Disability Review.”

Social Security has two different Disability Review forms they send out. People like to call these the “short form” and the “long form”.

The short form is two-pages and it is called “Disability Update Report.” If you got a short form, you are in the right place. Read on.

The long form is ten pages and it is called “Continuing Disability Review Report.” If you got a long form, you are in the wrong place. Check out this page instead: How to Complete a Long Form Continuing Disability Review

About the Disability Update Report

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, they do not contact your doctor or look at any of your medical records.

Passing a review is much easier than getting approved in the first place. Most reviews are successful. Some require appeals, but the vast majority are successful in the end.

The short form is not a review. They do not look at 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. 🙂

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!

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

It may be helpful if some or all of the doctor’s appointments that you list are for the condition you were approved for. For example, if you were approved for bipolar, going to the doctor for a broken toe will not be meaningful.

The Longer & Slower Review

If you have been working or been in school or your condition has improved or your doctor said you can work or you do not have recent doctor’s visits, there is a chance you will be sent a long form for more review.

Don’t worry, no final decisions will not be made right now. They do NOT decide to cut anyone off based on a short form. The worst thing that can happen is you will be sent a long form review.

If you have been working or in school or not seeing the doctor or have other 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 take a lot longer.

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.

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 you did everything perfectly, 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.

Be Prepared

You may not be sent a long form review, but there is a chance you will be.

Since you know this could happen, now is the best time to start preparing! Here are the steps you can take to be prepared for a 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.


2 thoughts on “How to Complete a Disability Update Report (SSA-455-BK)”

  1. What happens if I made an error, and need to fix one of the dates for last appointment? Do I request new form or will that flag me, or do I try to erase the wrong date and re write and will that flag me? I have long term and always get the short form.


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