Could My New Orleans SSDI Benefits Be Ended? Understanding Continuing Disability Reviews

If you are a New Orleans or Louisiana citizen currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, you should be aware that your disability benefits do not automatically continue forever. There are certain events that will trigger a loss of SSDI  benefits (such as being incarcerated). In addition, the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) conducts reviews of every case. These are generally called “continuing disability reviews” and the purpose is for SSA to find out if you are still disabled and unable to work.

If you receive a notice of review from the SSA, it may be advisable to contact skilled and experienced New Orleans SSDI benefits attorneys like the ones at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC. We can help and can provide some peace of mind. In this article, we will discuss SSA continuing disability reviews (“CDR”).

New Orleans SSDI Benefits Attorneys: What is a Continuing Disability Review?

In general, eligibility for SSDI benefits is based on two main factors: (1) a disabling medical condition and (2) being unable to work. But, as noted, if you have been awarded disability benefits, the SSA conducts periodic reviews of benefits. That is, the SSA does not just assume that your medical condition and inability to work will remain — or has remained — the same. As time progresses, your medical condition may improve and may improve to the point where you are now able to work. Likewise, medical or technology advances may enable you to work.

According to SSA policies, benefits will terminate:

  • If there is medical improvement in the individual’s impairment; AND
  • Physical and/or mental impairment and the vocational profile (i.e., age, education, work experience, technology) no longer prevents an individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity/employment; OR
  • If the individual has demonstrated — by working — the ability to engage in substantial gainful employment.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits Attorneys: Frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews

The frequency of your CDRs depends on your medical condition and whether improvement of your condition was expected, possible or unlikely. As an example, if your disability was based on loss of limb, then improvement might be POSSIBLE if prosthetic devices are available or UNLIKELY if no prosthetic devices are available for that particular loss of limb. Under those circumstances, the CDR is conducted every three to seven years. However, if improvement was expected, then a CDR might be scheduled every 18 months.

Aside from normally scheduled CDRs, a CDR can be triggered by medically listed events like finishing rehabilitation — physical or occupational — or by evidence of work-related income exceeding the limits.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits Attorneys: What is the CDR Process?

A CDR begins when the SSA sends you one of two forms: (1) a “Disability Update Report” or (2) a “Continuing Disability Review Report”.

If you receive either form, you MUST complete it. Failure to complete form will cause your disability benefits to stop for noncompliance and noncooperation. You must also answer truthfully. Failure to do so might be considered fraud, which is another basis for terminating your benefits.

In general, the two forms are seeking three types of information: (1) status of your medical condition, (2) impact of your condition with respect to gainful employment and (3) whether you have actually done work and to what extent. Again, be truthful even if you are worried that some answer might jeopardize your benefits. If you are concerned, it is wise to seek advice and counsel from experienced SSDI attorneys. Some work, for example, will not cause your benefits to cease (as long as the work was not “substantial gainful activity.”)

When completing the forms, it is often useful to consult your doctor for several reasons. First, as a courtesy, you should consult your doctor so that he/she knows that a CDR is being done in case the SSA contacts their office for medical records. Second, it may be useful to ask your doctor for an update on previous reports/evaluations as additional substantiation that you are still unable to work. Third, your doctor might be able to provide reports/records showing that your medical condition has actually worsened or that a new medical condition has been diagnosed.

Once the short-form or the long-form has been submitted, the SSA conducts its review. There may be additional steps required such as a meeting with a field officer or a medical examination by an SSA-appointed physician.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits Attorneys: The Impact of Work-Related Activities

As noted, you can still be eligible for SSDI even if you have engaged in some work. The question for the SSA is whether you have engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” The SSA assumes you have NOT engaged in gainful work if you have made less than $1,180 per month (higher for blind individuals). However, how much you make is not the only factor. The number of hours “worked” as a volunteer, for example, can be evidence of your ability to be gainfully employed. If the CDR reveals that you are able to engage in gainful employment, then your benefits will be discontinued.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits Attorneys: Appealing Revocation of Benefits

If you receive a letter from SSA saying that you are no longer eligible for benefits, you should contact a good SSDI attorney. You can appeal, but you must act quickly. In general, you must submit a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days — just two months. Moreover, if you want your benefit payments to continue during the appeal, then you must file your appeal within ten days. Otherwise, your benefits will terminate 60 days of receiving your notice of revocation. Note that you may not want to have your benefits continue during the appeal. If you lose the appeal, the SSA will seek repayment.

Contact New Orleans SSDI Lawyers Today to Discuss Your SSDI Benefits

At Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC, we can help if you think you are eligible for SSDI benefits or if you have received a CDR notice. We have years of experience helping New Orleans and Louisiana citizens file for and keep their SSDI benefits. Contact us via email or by calling directly.