Sunday, February 20, 2011

What to Do If Your Social Security Disability Benefits Are Under Review

Oftentimes, when people are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, they feel that the battle is over. They are under the assumption that those benefits will continue for as long as they need them. The fact of the matter is that Social Security Disability benefits are reviewed on a regular basis. How often they are reviewed and what happens during the review process depends on a number of factors. If you've been approved for Social Security Disability benefits and are wondering exactly how the review process will affect your future benefits, there are a few things you need to know.

Review Periods

The Social Security Administration reviews all disability benefits recipients on a regular basis. The period between Social Security Disability reviews will depend on your specific medical condition and whether or not improvement is expected. If you receive disability benefits and improvement of your condition is expected, the SSA will usually review your case within 18 months. If improvement is possible but cannot be predicted, your case is likely to be reviewed every three years. If improvement of your disability is not expected, you can expect a disability review once every seven years.

Notification of a Review

If your Social Security Disability benefits are being reviewed, you will receive a written notice. Disability recipients will normally receive a notice in the mail asking whether or not medical treatment has been received during the past two years, whether or not you feel better than you did two years ago, whether or not you have discussed your ability to work with your doctor and whether your doctor has cleared you to work. You will also be asked if you engaged in any work activity during the last two years. The answers to these questions will impact the outcome of the review.

Are Your Benefits at Risk?

Individuals receiving disability benefits often worry that their benefits are at risk when they go under review. This is not necessarily the case. The SSA must have evidence proving that your case has improved in order to stop benefits. If this evidence does not exist, the chances of your Social Security Disability benefits being revoked are slim to none. If, for some reason, the SSA does decide that you are no longer entitled to Social Security Disability benefits, you will be given notice of this finding.

Your Appeal Options

In most cases, if you are still unable to work, the SSA will not revoke your disability benefits. If they do decide to stop your benefits, your Social Security Disability payments will not stop immediately. You will still receive Social Security Disability payments for a period of two months. This will give you time to find employment to cover future expenses.

If you really cannot work and feel the decision to revoke your benefits was wrong, you have the right to appeal the decision. It is very important to understand that time is of the essence when filing your appeal. You technically have sixty days to file the appeal, but if you file within ten days your Social Security Disability benefits will continue while the appeal is under review. You need to understand, however, that if you file an appeal within ten days and the appeal is denied, you will be responsible for paying back any benefits that you received during the appeal process.

The Appeal Process

During the appeal process you will be entitled to have a face-to-face interview with an employee at the Social Security office. This person is not an Administrative Law Judge. Many people who are appealing revoked disability benefits assume that this hearing will be like the appeal hearing of an initial Social Security Disability application. However, it is more informal and, at this stage, your appeal will not be heard by a judge.

If you have your face-to-face meeting and Social Security still upholds the decision to revoke your benefits, you can ask to appear before an Administrative Law Judge. At that point, you may wish to have legal representation with you. Your chances of winning your case will increase with legal representation at this stage of the appeal process.

Again, it is important to remember that most people do not have to worry about the review process. The SSA routinely reviews all disability cases and most of the people receiving disability benefits will not have their benefits revoked. If you do receive a letter from the SSA stating that your benefits will be discontinued, keep the above advice in mind and, if you feel the decision was unjust, file an appeal.

Social Security Disability

Disability Claim

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