What Is a Social Security Disability Review?

Learn what to expect during an evaluation of your Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security Disability Review

Keeping good medical records and filling out the paperwork completely can help the Social Security disability review process go smoothly.(Getty Images)

If you have a disability and can no longer work like you once did, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. These payments come from the Social Security Disability Insurance program, which covers workers and their dependents. The benefits are designed to take the place of some of the income lost and can be used to support the disabled individual and their family members.

When you receive Social Security disability benefits, your case will occasionally be reviewed. This is done to help determine if you are still eligible for payments or if you’re able to work and no longer need the supplemental income. Following is an in-depth look at how Social Security disability benefits are reviewed and what you can expect during this process.

What Is a Social Security Disability Review?

By law, Social Security must evaluate your case on occasion to determine if you are still disabled. If the process indicates that you are still disabled, your benefits will continue without interruption. Your ability to work is also reviewed during these steps. Social Security will be looking for signs that you are able to work, and if so, the type of work you can do. If it is determined that your overall condition has improved and you are able to work, you can expect the benefits to stop.

There are limits to how much you can receive in Social Security disability benefits if you are working. You may be eligible for a trial work period, which allows you to work for nine months during a 60-month span and still receive benefits regardless of your earnings. After that, if you receive what is considered substantial income, which is more than $1,350 in a month during 2022, you won’t be eligible for Social Security disability deposits.

How Often Social Security Reviews Your Disability

When you are first notified that Social Security disability checks will begin, the letter will indicate when your first review will occur. The timing of your reviews is related to the type of medical condition you have and the prognosis for your health. If your condition is expected to improve, the review will occur between six and 18 months after the date you became disabled.

For conditions that could improve but can’t be predicted, the case will be revisited approximately once every three years. If your health is not expected to get better, the situation will be reviewed about one time every seven years.

How Long a Social Security Review Takes

The first step of the review process involves Social Security notifying you that your case will be evaluated. Laura Andert, a disability inclusion business partnership consultant and disability advocate in St. Paul, Minnesota, recently underwent the review process. Andert receives Social Security disability benefits and had 12 business days to turn in the required documentation. “If you need more time, call the local Social Security office and leave a voicemail to let them know you need more time to get the documents together,” Andert says. After you submit the required documentation and have any needed tests carried out, the final steps of the review process can take several months.

Documents Needed for a Social Security Disability Review

There is some paperwork that will be involved in the evaluation process. “You’ll need patient records for any type of medical treatment you’ve received since your disabling event,” says Colin Nabity, CEO and co-founder at Breeze, an Omaha-based disability insurance company.

You’ll also likely need to share the contact information for your doctors, as the review may include interviews with your medical team to check on your condition. “It would be wise to include all medical visits dating back to your previous medical review or the original entitlement date if this is your first review,” says Andrew November, a disability attorney at Liner Legal in Cleveland.

If you’re working, you’ll want to share your employer’s name, the date you were hired, the number of hours you worked and the payment received. “It is an excellent practice to keep all paystubs, and with the expansion of online workplace dashboards, you may have a login and password that can take you to a place where all this information is stored,” November says.

How to Make the Process Go Smoothly

When Social Security carries out a medical review, they may reach out to contact you personally for an interview during the process. “Keep an eye out for phone calls and letters from Social Security,” November says. “When conducting their medical review, they may only call or write so many times. Failure to respond may constitute a basis for denial.”

Maintaining flexibility tends to be key for helping the process to continue. If another examination needs to be conducted, it’s best if you’re able to come on the day it is scheduled. Contact your health providers and employer for any paperwork needed, and explain to them the timeline so they can help you stay on track.

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