From time to time, Social Security will conduct a medical review to see if you are still disabled. Most reviews pass without problems.
How Often Will I Be Reviewed?
Reviews generally happen every 3 or 5 or 7 years. Every person is on a different review cycle and sometimes the cycle can change. Learn more about: When Is My Next Social Security Disability Review?
Types of Reviews
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 wrong place. Check out this page instead: How to Complete a Disability Update Report
The long form is ten pages and it is called “Continuing Disability Review Report.” If you got a long form, you are in the right place. Read on.
The Most Important Thing To Do
The most important thing to do during reviews is to take care of yourself. Many people get frightened during disability reviews, and this can cause their symptoms or disability to get worse.
If you are feeling frightened, you are not alone, everyone goes through this and it is normal to feel this way. Try to be patient and gentle with yourself during this time, and reach out to your loved ones or companion animals for support, if you are able.
Reviews are a normal part of being on disability, they will happen from time to time no matter what, and most will pass with no problems. It will most likely be at least six months before you get an answer for your review, so this is a good time to slow down and focus on taking care of yourself.
Most reviews are easily approved, but even if you run into a problem you’ll have plenty of opportunities to appeal and turn things around. There are also ways to keep your benefits going during the appeal. If any problem comes up with your review, there will be time to change things or turn things around.
How Does Social Security Decide if I am Still Disabled?
Passing a review is much easier than what you went through when you first applied and got approved. If you’d like to learn more about how Social Security makes this decision and what the requirements are, take a look here: How to Be Prepared for a Continuing Disability Review
Completing The Report
🌷 If you’d like to see a sample, here’s a completed Continuing Disability Review Report
🌷 Make sure to include full, current and accurate contact information for all your doctors. Including phone, fax, and mailing address.
🌷Before you send your forms in, make a copy for yourself.
Here’s three things you do not have to do, but if you want to do them they may help things go more smoothly:
🌷If you have copies of your recent medical records, you can enclose them with your review forms. (Hint: Do not print things out online. The records you see online are not your complete records).
🌷If your doctor is willing, you can ask for a brief letter. It does not need to have as much detail as when you first applied. Key points Social Security looks for: Has your condition improved? Are your symptoms still severe?
🌷If you are in a home care program or you are receiving any other disability-related services, you can also request from your caseworker a copy of your case file or assessments and submit these with your review.
After Sending Back Review Forms
🌷After you send everything in, call and make sure it was received. Some people send it by delivery confirmation, so they have a receipt.
🌷 You may wish to contact the person handling your case and make sure they have gotten copies of your important medical records. This person may be called a disability examiner. How to Stay In Touch with Your Disability Examiner
🌷 You will likely receive another form to fill out. Tips for filling out an Adult Function Form / Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire
🌷Your contact person may be sent this form: Third Party Form
🌷Sometimes you are sent to a visit with the Social Security Doctor
🌷 It’s important to check your mail regularly when while the review is going on. There is a chance you will be sent something with very limited time to respond.
🌷 If you are going out of town, or cannot access your mail regularly, you might look into signing up for informed delivery from your post office. However, this only tells you about envelopes, not larger mail.
🌷 If you are homebound and have difficulty walking to your mailbox, here is an idea: Victoria Gets Mail Delivered to Her Doorstep
🌷 If you move, it is super important to give Social Security your new address and confirm that it is updated in their system. If you come up for disability review and the paperwork is sent to the wrong address, you could get cut off and it may take months to get your check started again.
If You Have to Appeal
💮 Most reviews are approved without problem. If your review is not approved, don’t panic. You can appeal and most appeals are successful: How to Appeal a Continuing Disability Review
💮 Success story: Wisteria Gets Her Disability Benefits Back
🌷 If you missed a deadline: What To Do If You Miss a Social Security Deadline
🌷 If you are working – Tips if you are currently working: How to Handle Disability Reviews While Working
🌷 If you haven’t been going to the doctor: Start right now, if at all possible. Also check out: How To Explain Why You Haven’t Been to the Doctor
🌷 If you are homebound and unable to visit the Social Security doctor – There is a section on this page that addresses this situation.
🌷 If you are homebound and do not have any kind of doctor – See the link above. You may also see if you can find anything helpful here: How to Get a Doctor to Come to Your House
Review process can take 3-6 months sometimes longer. If it goes into appeals, it can take several years. So, you have time to correct problems! If there are any issues with your medical records, now is a great time to start getting stronger records:
🌷 Some doctors are considered “Acceptable Medical Sources.” This includes a doctor who is an MD, DO, PhD Psychologist, Psychiatrist, and sometimes other practitioners. Having a doctor who is an Acceptable Medical Source is not required, but can be helpful. If your doctor is not one, you may decide to start seeing one now. Acceptable Medical Source Rules
🌷 Be honest with your doc. If you’ve been “putting on a good face” or haven’t been telling your doctor all your struggles every visit: How to Stop Hiding From Your Doctor
🌷 Tips from readers: How to Talking to Your Doctor Can Help (or hurt) Your Disability Case
In my disability review, SSA did not scan hundreds of pages of records and doctors notes that were sent to them twice with my long form and tracked as received by the post office. They also seemed to give my doctors very little time to send records on their own. Thus, when the file went for review, all they had was the long form with no medical evidence. I’ve heard of others having the same problem.
When I reached out for help, I was told that the best way to ensure SSA receives your forms and records is to fax them at the number on your barcode page. As long as the barcode is the first page, the records get uploaded to your file automatically. SSA’s own website confirms this: https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0481020060 You have a receipt from your fax that tells you the time it was received as well as the number of pages so you can prove you sent it.
I wanted to pass that information along in case it helps anyone.