How to Be Prepared for a Continuing Disability Review

Artwork: Robin Mead

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 special policies that make passing a medical review easier than getting approved in the first place.

Social Security policies state that a review will pass if the person still has the condition they were approved for, and this condition has not improved.

Usually, they will not look at other conditions or new conditions. They will look at the condition you were approved for. If the records show that this condition has not improved, a review will usually pass. If there is a problem, then they will consider other conditions.

According to the policies for medical reviews, Social Security will look at the following:

💮 Are you in regular medical treatment?

💮 Are you being treated for the condition you were approved for?

💮 Are you following your doctor’s treatment suggestions?

💮 Is your condition still severe and are you unable to work full time?

💮 Do your medical records say your condition has “improved”?

💮 Once again, this is for the condition you were approved for. It doesn’t matter if other conditions have improved.

If You are Working or in a Work Program

💮 If you are using a Vocational Rehabilitation program or a Ticket to Work program or a job training program. Social Security may check to see if the records from these programs include anything that show that your condition has improved

💮 If you have gone back to work, Social Security may look to see if the type of work you are doing indicates that your condition has improved. (i.e. When John was approved, his records said he could not lift more than five pounds. Now John has a job that involves lifting ten pounds. Social Security may consider that John’s condition has improved.)

💮  Please take a look at some of the Social Security rules and regs around working that may be helpful to know.

Tips for Medical Records

Make Sure You Are Seeing The Right Kind of Doctor

💮  Social Security would like you to see an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source.

Talk to Your Doc

💮 What is your doctor’s medical opinion? Do they think you are disabled? Do they  understand how severe your symptoms are? You won’t know if you don’t ask.

Have Great Doctor Visits

💮 Read this and burn it into (what’s left of) your memory.

How to Please the Social Security Gods

💮 Five doctor rules you might not know

Tips from the Pros

💮 Reader’s tips on how to have good medical records

Read Your Medical Records

💮 It’s a good idea to do this from time to time, just to make sure that what your doctor is saying to you is the same as what they are writing about you. Make sure to read complete records with treatment notes, if possible. Don’t just read what you see online or what you are handed after an office visit.

Updated June 2017. Please comment below with stories, questions, input or ideas. Please let me know if any links on this page stop working. 💮

6 thoughts on “How to Be Prepared for a Continuing Disability Review”

  1. I’m currently avoiding reviews by maintaining my status as a client of a local vocational organization. However, to remain a client I have to continue to be in school. So far it’s been going OK, but my health is deteriorating again. I do not know if I will stay well enough to complete my studies. If I have to drop out, I am liable to receive a review.
    Unfortunately, I was approved for Conversion Disorder. Finally, over two years after I applied, I have an accurate diagnosis. I am not being treated for conversion disorder, though I have weekly therapy for PTSD, GAD, and depression (secondary on my application). Instead, it turns out I have a mast cell disease, which was never mentioned on my application as I hadn’t even heard of the disease yet.
    Is there a way to rectify the incorrect diagnosis? Will doing so put my SSDI and SSI in jeopardy?


  2. Hi lia,

    Excellent questions.

    I think you are doing the right thing by staying in regular treatment and that will help with your next review.

    I cannot say exactly how Social Security will view your review, but I am wondering if they may have considered your conversion disorder to fall under the category of mental health? Since you are still in treatment for mental health that would be good. 🙂

    It might be helpful to give them a call and see if they can look in the computer to see what exactly they have you listed as being approved for.

    Bottom line: the best thing to do is just keep up good, accurate medical records. social security will also request and review your file from the vocational program so you would like those records to also be an accurate reflection of your disability.

    Is your therapist a psychologist or psychiatrist? That would also help.

    hope it goes great ❤


  3. Someone referred me to your site. I’m so glad they did!

    My first application was approved in late 2013. (Yeah I know. A miracle, right?) I still have most of my conditions but I’ve improved some. I lost some weight but am still considered morbidly obese. The improvements I have made haven’t made much of an impact. I have a TTW open. I found a full time job but had to go part time for health reasons; my diagnosis of fibromyalgia in early 2015.

    I live in fear of losing my benefits. I appear to have improved but fibromyalgia had rendered those improvements meaningless. Any advice you might be able to give me would be much appreciated.


    1. Thanks for writing. Do you know what conditions you were approved for? As far as I know, Social Security does not have a listing for obesity, you may have been approved for a condition or impairment related to the obesity. If you are not sure, it might be helpful to call and ask.

      That is great that you are able to work and trying to work.

      What I have seen from others is: TTW is well-designed for people who are trying to work full time and transition off their benefits, but it is not an ideal program for people who continue to be disabled and need stay on benefits. Do you feel that you are working enough hours to be able to continue to stay in the TTW program?

      If you feel that your condition has improved but your fibro is disabling, it may be helpful to start seeing a rheumatologist, and to talk to your rheumy about this so you can learn what they think about your disability application.

      A few of the rules and reg around working while on disability. Hope this helps. ❤


  4. I am currently in the mist of a ling form cdr I have been seeing doctors very regular over the years. I know one doctor is very supportive of my condition and feels I cannot work. My question to you is asking for copies of my medical records… I am very Leary to do that because I do not want my doctors to think I am checking to be sure they will support my disability. I fear by asking to have copies or to read them may make them feel I am checking up to be sure they will put whats needed to stay on ssdi. Make sense??


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