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Continuing Disability Review

After finding an individual disabled, Social Security Administration will perform a continuing disability review (CDR) from time to time to evaluate whether an individual continues to meet the disability requirements of the law (DI 13001.001; DI 28001.001). By statute, review must occur at least once every three years, unless you are permanently disabled (in which case review should occur every seven years), or sooner if you have a condition that is expected to improve (DI 40501.001). If medical improvement is expected, Social Security Administration will review your case for any decrease in the medical severity of your impairment(s) which was present at the time of the decision, and determine whether benefits should cease (20 CFR § 404.1579(b)(1)). Your case may also be flagged for review if it appears that you are working, as indicated by substantial earnings reported to your work record, or if it appears you are capable of work according to reports from State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency or an individual in a position to know of your physical or mental condition (20 CFR 404.1590(b)).

According to legislative history, the initial purpose of the CDR was to implement $3.4 billion disability budget cuts, which resulted in benefits ceasing on 45% of cases reviewed in the first two years (See Frank Borowiec, Upholding the Rule of Law, 2011). While budget savings seems to undermine the purpose of the Social Security Act, Congress has a duty to safeguard U.S. tax dollars as well. Last year, the Acting Commissioner reported estimated lifetime savings of $404 million in Title II benefits and $77 million in Title XVI payments at a direct cost of $47 million (http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/PER%20fy12.pdf). According to the Acting Commissioner, limited funding has affected timely performance of CDRs, though recent appropriation of funding should enable Social Security Administration to complete substantially more full medical CDRs in 2015 (http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/testimony_061114.html).

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