Once the Social Security Administration grants disability benefits to claimants, it is required to periodically review the cases of people receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. The process of Continuing Disability Reviews can often be confusing to claimants.  A CDR allows the SSA to determine if any of its benefit recipients are no longer disabled and whether they can still qualify for disability benefits.

How often do CDRs occur?
CDRs occur at different times depending on the age and medical condition affecting the benefit recipient.

Adult CDRs
CDRs for adults are generally set for review every three or seven years. Whether a CDR is scheduled sooner rather than later is dependent upon the likelihood that the recipient’s condition will improve. If the SSA expects a claimant’s condition to improve, it may conduct a CDR much sooner than three years. On the other hand, if the SSA knows a claimant to be disabled from a permanent condition, it may conduct a CDR of the recipient even later than seven years.

Child CDRs
CDRS for children are automatically scheduled to occur when the recipient turns 18 years old. The standards to be considered disabled as a child are very different than those for an adult. Thus, children must have their claims reviewed when they reach 18 years old because they need to be evaluated under the adult standards for disability benefits.

Triggered CDRs

  • Some CDRs can be triggered in addition to regularly scheduled CDRs. The SSA may conduct a CDR when:
  • The recipient returns to work;
  • The recipient lets the SSA know that his or her condition has improved;
  • The recipient’s medical evidence indicates that his or her condition has improved;
  • An outside party tells the SSA that the recipient is not following his or her required treatments;
  • A new treatment is available to treat the recipient’s disabling condition


How hard is it to pass a CDR?
While CDRs are a hurdle for disability recipients to cross, it is generally much easier to pass a CDR than it is to be granted Social Security disability benefits in the first place. Recent studies by the SSA have found that Social Security disability benefits are continued after CDRs more than 95 percent of the time.

Generally, a recipient’s disability benefits will only be taken away if his or her medical condition has improved in a way that affects his or her ability to work, and if the recipient is capable of participating in substantial gainful activity.

In a CDR, the SSA relies heavily on the medical improvement review standard. Medical improvement means that the severity of the recipient’s impairment must have significantly lessened. This medical improvement must also be related to the recipient’s work. If the improvement has increased the recipient’s ability to perform work, the recipient may not need his or her disability benefits continued.

Having the ability to participate in substantial gainful activity means being able to earn at least $1,090 from working. Even if the SSA finds a recipient’s medical condition has improved as it relates to his or her ability to work, the recipient must be able to work at the SGA level before the SSA will terminate the recipient’s disability benefits.

What do I do if my benefits are discontinued?
If the SSA discontinues a recipient’s disability benefits after a CDR, a claimant can appeal the decision and request that his or her case be heard before an administrative law judge (ALJ). A claimant can also request that his or her disability benefits be continued in the interim until the case can be heard before the ALJ. However, if the ALJ later decides that the benefits should be discontinued, the claimant may have to repay the benefits they received while waiting for the hearing.

If you are up for a Continuing Disability Review we can help. Contact our office online today or call #(847) 577-4476.