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.
When you go through a review, they will first look at the condition you were approved for. In most cases, that is all they need to consider.
However, if your records indicate that your original condition has improved, then they will also consider any new other conditions you have developed.
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. If you were approved for Bipolar, and later you got cancer, it does not matter if they cancer improved.
How Are Reviews Different Than New Applications?
💮 When you first applied, you needed to prove that you were disabled. This is difficult to do and can take many years.
💮 When you are reviewed, you do not need to prove you are disabled all over again! They already know you are disabled. You just need medical records showing that you still have the same condition and that condition has not improved. They will also look to see that you are in regular treatment.
💮 If your original condition has improved, or if something in your records indicates that it may have improved, then you are in a different situation. At that point, they will also consider if you have developed any other conditions and whether you are now disabled based on all your old and new conditions.
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 Disability Reviews
💮 This is a short form you are sent sometimes instead of getting a full review.
💮 If you are given a full review, you may be sent this form.
💮 If you are give a full review, you may be sent for a visit with a Social Security doctor.
Tips for Medical Records
💮 Social Security would like you to see an MD or another kind of acceptable medical source.
💮 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.
💮 Read this and burn it into (what’s left of) your memory.
💮 Five doctor rules you might not know
💮 Reader’s tips on how to have good 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 us know if any links on this page stop working. 💮