Understanding CDRs (Continuing Disability Reviews)

By Juliet D'cruz

After you have become disabled and applied for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. These are two different types of federal disability payment programs. SSDI benefits can be paid to disabled adults who have worked for a sufficient time period and duration, and these benefits are not based on income. To be clear, SSDI benefits can be paid to a disabled adult regardless of that person’s income level as long as other eligibility requirements have been met. SSI benefits are for low-income disabled adults.

Once you have been approved for benefits, you will need to understand how CDRs work. The SSA must periodically review your case if you are receiving SSDI or SSI benefits, and this review process is known as a CDR. How does this process work? 

What Are Continuing Disability Reviews?

The Social Security Administration explains that it periodically reviews the medical impairment or impairments of every person who is receiving disability benefits—either SSDI or SSI benefits—in order to determine if the person continues to have a disabling condition that qualifies them for benefits. If the SSA determines that you no longer have a disability according to their definition, or if you are no longer blind, then you cannot continue to receive disability benefits.

The SSA describes this review process as a continuing disability review, or CDR. Under federal law, Social Security must undertake this process for a disabled person receiving benefits at least once every three years for most people. For disabled people who have a condition that is not expected to improve, then Social Security will review the case one every five to seven years (instead of once every three years). It is important to understand that everyone receiving SSDI or SSI benefits must go through the CDR process, and that this is not a process designed to punish you or to monitor you in ways that others are not being evaluated.

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How the CDR Process Works

What should you expect during the CDR process? First, you should know that the CDR process is not the same as the process you went through to apply for disability benefits. The CDR process makes it much easier to continue receiving benefits (as opposed to providing all of the evidence required to show that you were initially eligible). Then, CDRs generally fall into three categories:

  • Adult CDRs (reviewing a disabled adult’s condition);
  • Child CDRs (reviewing a disabled child’s condition); and/or
  • Triggered CDRs (reviewing a disabled person’s condition because an event occurred, such as a return to work, medical evidence that shows you are no longer disabled, or a report that you are not abiding by the requirements for receiving disability benefits).

The CDR process typically begins with a form SSA-454 (known as a Continuing Disability Review Report) or a form SSA-455 (known as a Disability Update Report). In addition to the form, the SSA may review information such as your income and resources, and your working situation. 

Contact a Disability Benefits Attorney Today

If you have any questions about CDRs, a disability benefits lawyer can help you and can address your concerns, and can appeal your denied SSDI application if need be. 

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