Protecting Your Benefits From a Continuing Disability Review

Protecting Your Benefits From a Continuing Disability Review

continuing disability review

It can take months (or even years) to qualify for and begin receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. After completing the waiting period, filling out your application, and appealing a denied claim, you’d think your benefits would be locked in. What many people don’t realize is that even those who have been approved for SSDI benefits may be subject to a recurring Continuing Disability Review (CDR). 

In this blog, Social Security Disability Advocates USA explains what this Social Security Administration (SSA) requirement is and how to make sure you don’t lose your benefits.

What Is a Continuing Disability Review?

A Continuing Disability Review is a medical review conducted by the SSA at least once every 3 years to confirm that a disabled person is still eligible for benefits. The good news is that passing your CDR is generally a much easier process than qualifying for disability benefits in the first place. Still, it’s important that you understand what the disability review entails and what is expected of you if you receive a CDR notice. 

Note: You will usually only be subject to a CDR every three years if your medical condition has the potential to improve. If your condition is expected to improve, your case may be reviewed more often, between every 6 to 18 months. Those who have been recognized as permanently disabled by the Social Security Administration will still have their cases reviewed, just not as frequently—every five to seven years, on average. 

How Long Does a Continuing Disability Review Take?

How long the disability review process takes depends on whether your disability is caused by a medical condition that is expected to improve or if you are permanently disabled or blind. 

If you’re permanently disabled, you’ll most likely receive a short two-page Disability Update Report (also called a short form) when your case is under review by the SSA. The Disability Update Report is only six questions long and will likely take from one to three months for the agency to process. Sometimes, the SSA will flag your Disability Update Report for one reason or another and you’ll then be subject to the full Continuing Disability Report Review. Occasionally processing a short form disability review can take additional time (up to six months).

If your condition is expected to improve, you may receive the lengthier 10-page Continuing Disability Review Report without having received the short form first. While the Disability Update Report is based solely on your answers to the questions, the CDR includes a full medical review. For this reason, it may take six months or more for the SSA to process your disability review.

How Do I Fill Out Social Security Disability Review Forms?

If you receive a notice from the SSA about needing to complete a disability update report or a continuing disability review report, there’s no need to panic. Receiving one of these notices does not mean that Social Security is thinking about terminating your benefits—almost everyone who receives disability benefits will eventually need to complete either the short or long form.

However, you may find it helpful to consult with a Social Security disability attorney before submitting your disability review or update report to ensure that you’ve filled out everything correctly (and that your claim doesn’t get stuck in processing).

How to Fill Out the Social Security Disability Short Form

If you receive a piece of mail from the SSA requesting that you complete a Disability Report Update (Form SSA-455), you have several options for how you can fill out the form and submit it to the SSA for review. 

Completing the Disability Update Report Online

Back in November 2020, the SSA introduced a newer and more convenient way to complete the Disability Update Report online. Here’s a list of everything you’ll need if you want to complete the short form on the internet:

  • A computer with internet access (the online form works best with Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome browsers)
  • A valid email address (Don’t have one? Sign up for a free email account here.)
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your current address and phone number
  • The letter you received requesting that you complete Form SSA-445

The questionnaire asks for information about your work status, whether you’ve attended school or work training programs, if your doctor has made recommendations about your ability to work, a rating of your overall health, whether or not you’ve had doctor’s appointments or been prescribed medication, and if you’ve been hospitalized or had surgery within a certain time frame.


All the questions on the online disability report form can be answered with a simple yes, no, or other pre-filled bubble option. If you choose, you can add additional remarks or attachments to your online form, but they are not always necessary. 

With just a few clicks, you can finish the online form in minutes. Keep in mind that you must digitally sign the form by either typing your name or drawing your signature in the box provided. You will also need to be able to access your email to confirm the signature before the form is sent to the SSA.

Completing the Disability Update Report By Mail

If you do not have access to a computer or would simply prefer to send your completed disability update report by mail, you can fill out the scannable paper copy of the form sent to you with the notice from the SSA. 

Be sure to fill out the form clearly and carefully, since the form is scanned by a computer. If the computer is unable to read your responses (or if one of your answers is flagged), an SSA representative will need to process it, which will take longer. Send your completed disability update report to the following address within 30 days of receiving it:

Social Security Administration
P.O. Box 4550
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18767-4550

Need a replacement form? Call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (for the hearing impaired). 

How to Fill Out the Disability Review Long Form

As of January 2021, there is no way to complete the CDR form online—you must fill out the paper copy sent to you by the SSA and mail it back to the address provided in your notice or drop it off at your local SSA office. You can print a copy of the CDR long form here.

Unlike the Disability Update Report, the Continuing Disability Review is a full medical review of your condition. As such, filling out the long form will take more time and require more in-depth answers to questions about your health, medical treatment, and any full- or part-time employment you’ve engaged in. 

As noted above, the Continuing Disability Review is a much longer form and also requires accompanying medical documentation to prove that your condition or disability has not improved to the degree that you are no longer eligible to receive SSDI benefits. 

While the agency will request your records for you, you can send them copies of existing medical records from the past 12 months if you already have them. You also have the option of including a brief letter from your doctor describing any changes in your condition or symptom severity. If you need help, a friend, family member, SSA representative, or your Social Security disability lawyer can assist you with filling out the CDR.

Can I Appeal a Discontinuation of Benefits After a CDR?

disability review

If your benefits are terminated following your submission of your Continuing Disability Review, you can appeal the decision

In order to continue receiving disability benefits during the appeal period, you’ll need to first send the SSA a Benefit Continuation form within 10 days of receiving the denial. Then, you must submit a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your denial. 

As with the initial disability application process, there can be many stages in the CDR appeals process. For prompt, compassionate, and experienced legal assistance concerning a disability review or appeal, be sure to contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA by calling 602-952-3200. We’re available 24/7 to set up your free consultation and case review. 

Have more questions? Agents are standing by via LiveChat to help. You can also request your free case review online by filling out this simple form.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.
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