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Social Security disability benefits and medical reviews

When a person learns that they will be receiving Social Security disability benefits, it is understandably a great relief, as they will be able to worry a little less about putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their head.

As relieving as this is, it's nevertheless important to understand that the Social Security Administration may conduct periodic reviews to determine whether your are still eligible for disability benefits.

When exactly these reviews are conducted depends in large part upon the underlying nature and severity of your medical condition.

  • If your condition is expected to improve, the first review will likely take place anywhere from six to 18 months after receiving disability benefits.
  • If there is a possibility that your condition will improve, a review will likely take place roughly once every three years.
  • If your condition is not expected to improve, a review will likely take place roughly once every seven years.

When a review is pending, the SSA will send a letter requesting your presence at a local field office or ask you to fill out some forms. The purpose of all this is simply to gather information about your condition and secure other pertinent data (contact information for treating physicians, patient record offices, recent employers, etc).

This information will then be examined by a team of SSA officials, including an examiner and medical consultant, to determine whether benefits should continue.

In the event the SSA decides to stop disability benefits -- unlikely if there has been little medical improvement and you are unable to work -- it's important for people to understand that they do have options for appealing the decision. Specifically, there are four different levels of appeal available, including reconsideration, hearing, appeals council and federal court.

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about Social Security disability benefits, including your rights and options concerning both medical reviews and appeals.

Source: The Asbury Park Press, "Social Security: How often will disability be reviewed?" July 20, 2014; Social Security Administration, "What you need to know: Reviewing your disability," July 2014

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