The Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit (CDIU) investigates disability claims under Social Security Administrations Title II and Title XVI programs. The primary mission is to resolve questions of fraud on suspicious claims flagged by State disability examiners before they are paid. The CDI Unit also provides reports to disability examiners during continuing disability reviews (CDRs) of claims that are already being paid.
The results of their findings are compiled in a Report of Investigation (ROI), which may include copies of school or employment records, third party interviews, as well as video surveillance in both video and narrative form. (Typical surveillance might entail following a claimant to a doctor’s appointment). Although the CDIU can assist the decision-maker in evaluating the credibility of a claimant’s statements, the ROI does not express opinions about whether SSA should award or deny benefits.
The ROI is part of the claims file, which a claimant has a right to access under the Privacy Act (5 USC 552a(d) and 20 CFR 401.35). Claimants also have a right to challenge the weight or significance attributed to the ROI. Typical challenges include securing contradictory witnesses or contending the events depicted in the report constitute single, isolated occurrences. While it has been argued that use of a CDIU investigation is inconsistent with the broad remedial purpose of the Social Security Act, the Ninth Circuit has held that CDIU investigations are appropriate and the evidence generate thereby may be relied upon.
Program Operations Manual System DI 33025.036 F
Program Operations Manual System DI 33025.036 J
Elmore v. Colvin, 617 Fed. Appx. 755-757 (9th Cir. Jul. 15, 2015)