When you are awarded Social Security disability benefits, a finding is made that you are entitled only at the time the benefits are awarded. There is never a finding that the disability is permanent. The Social Security Administration is continually reviewing awards of disability to terminate benefits in cases where the claimant no longer qualifies.
It is important that you understand how this review process works.
How often will a review of entitlement to benefits occur?
After you win your benefits, the SSA will periodically review your claim to make sure that you are still disabled. Congress has mandated that no matter what kind of disability that you have the SSA must review your entitlement to benefits. How often they review your benefits depends on the severity of your disability and the likelihood that you will recover. The SSA has three different groupings for reviews:
1. If medical improvement is “expected,” your case normally will be reviewed within six to 18 months.
2. If medical improvement is “possible,” your case normally will be reviewed no sooner than three years.
3. If medical improvement is “not expected,” your case normally will be reviewed no sooner than seven years.
To find out when your claim is going to be reviewed, you should look on your award certificate. Most award certificates give your review date. If there is no review date in your award certificate, you must try and guess which of the 3 groupings listed above best describes your condition.
What happens in the review process?
The SSA initiates the review process by sending you a letter with questions about your condition. Based on your answers the SSA will either write back and say that there is no need for a review or say that a full medical review is called for.
If your claim is going to be reviewed, the SSA will ask you to come into the local branch for an interview. In the interview they will ask you for a copy of your current medical file, any information on new hospital stays, and, if you worked since you became disabled, the dates and types of jobs you did. The SSA will send your records to a medical examiner to go over your files and look for signs of improvement. The SSA bases their decision on the medical information that is collected from your doctors.
What are the reasons that SSA will stop benefits?
There are two reasons that SSA will stop paying benefits. The first reason is if you are working at what they feel is a “sustainable” level. In financial terms this means earning $840 or more per month for the year 2006. The other major reason that the SSA will stop your benefits is if they feel your condition has improved enough for you to work.
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