CDR In Plain Language...
§ 404.1590. When and how often we will conduct a continuing disability review.
(a) General. We conduct continuing disability reviews to determine whether or not you continue to meet the disability requirements of the law. Payment of cash benefits or a period of disability ends if the medical or other evidence shows that you are not disabled as determined under the standards set out in section 223(f) of the Social Security Act. In paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section, we explain when and how often we conduct continuing disability reviews for most individuals. In paragraph (h) of this section, we explain special rules for some individuals who are participating in the Ticket to Work program. In paragraph (i) of this section, we explain special rules for some individuals who work.
(b) When we will conduct a continuing disability review. Except as provided in paragraphs (h) and (i) of this section, we will start a continuing disability review if—
(1) You have been scheduled for a medical improvement expected diary review; [ See definition below.]
(2) You have been scheduled for a periodic review (medical improvement possible or medical improvement not expected) in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (d) of this section;
(3) We need a current medical or other report to see if your disability continues. (This could happen when, for example, an advance in medical technology, such as improved treatment for Alzheimer's disease or a change in vocational therapy or technology raises a disability issue.);
(4) You return to work and successfully complete a period of trial work; [see here for Trial Work Period, usually 9 months earning more than $710, the months need not be consecutive; So this means that even if you are not working SGA, but less, but do so for 9 non-consecutive months is a cause for CDR].
(5) Substantial earnings are reported to your wage record; [see here, SGA was $721 during 2014, but will likely go up every year][This means that YES, going back to work and earning more than SGA is a definite cause for CDR.]
(6) You tell us that—
(i) You have recovered from your disability; or
(ii) You have returned to work;
(7) Your State Vocational Rehabilitation Agency tells us that—
(i) The services have been completed; or
(ii) You are now working; or
(iii) You are able to work;
(8) Someone in a position to know of your physical or mental condition tells us any of the following, and it appears that the report could be substantially correct: [These are reports often from neighbors, family or friends who think you are cheating the system, usually.]
(i) You are not disabled; or
(ii) You are not following prescribed treatment; or
(iii) You have returned to work; or
(iv) You are failing to follow the provisions of the Social Security Act or these regulations;
(9) Evidence we receive raises a question as to whether your disability continues; or [This could, feasibly, be the same as #8, but could be other things, such as merely sending in a video, anonymously, of you climbing Mt. Everest, despite your claimed back impairment, or other less onerous activities. It may possibly be IRS reported income even below SGA and TWP earnings - i.e. any part time work.]
(10) You have been scheduled for a vocational reexamination diary review.
(c) Definitions. As used in this section—
Medical improvement expected diary—refers to a case which is scheduled for review at a later date because the individual's impairment(s) is expected to improve. [This one is very common and the one I see often.] Generally, the diary period is set for not less than 6 months or for not more than 18 months. Examples of cases likely to be scheduled for medical improvement expected diary are fractures and cases in which corrective surgery is planned and recovery can be anticipated. [Think, hip replacement, knee surgery, etc.]
Permanent impairment—medical improvement not expected—refers to a case in which any medical improvement in the person's impairment(s) is not expected. This means an extremely severe condition determined on the basis of our experience in administering the disability programs to be at least static, but more likely to be progressively disabling either by itself or by reason of impairment complications, and unlikely to improve so as to permit the individual to engage in substantial gainful activity. The interaction of the individual's age, impairment consequences and lack of recent attachment to the labor market may also be considered in determining whether an impairment is permanent. Improvement which is considered temporary under § 404.1579(c)(4) or § 404.1594(c)(3)(iv), as appropriate, will not be considered in deciding if an impairment is permanent. Examples of permanent impairments taken from the list contained in our other written guidelines which are available for public review are as follows and are not intended to be all inclusive:
(1) Parkinsonian Syndrome which has reached the level of severity necessary to meet the Listing in appendix 1.
(2) Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis which has reached the level of severity necessary to meet the Listing in appendix 1.
(3) Diffuse pulmonary fibrosis in an individual age 55 or over which has reached the level of severity necessary to meet the Listing in appendix 1.
(4) Amputation of leg at hip.
Nonpermanent impairment—refers to a case in which any medical improvement in the person's impairment(s) is possible. This means an impairment for which improvement cannot be predicted based on current experience and the facts of the particular case but which is not at the level of severity of an impairment that is considered permanent. Examples of nonpermanent impairments are: regional enteritis, hyperthyroidism, and chronic ulcerative colitis. [This is MOST often applicable, because it seems to cover everything "else" - if you don't fall into the other categories, expect to be falling into this one.]
Vocational reexamination diary—refers to a case which is scheduled for review at a later date because the individual is undergoing vocational therapy, training or an educational program which may improve his or her ability to work so that the disability requirement of the law is no longer met. Generally, the diary period will be set for the length of the training, therapy, or program of education. [I don't see this one much.]
(d) Frequency of review. If your impairment is expected to improve, generally we will review your continuing eligibility for disability benefits at intervals from 6 months to 18 months following our most recent decision. Our notice to you about the review of your case will tell you more precisely when the review will be conducted. If your disability is not considered permanent but is such that any medical improvement in your impairment(s) cannot be accurately predicted, we will review your continuing eligibility for disability benefits at least once every 3 years. If your disability is considered permanent, we will review your continuing eligibility for benefits no less frequently than once every 7 years but no more frequently than once every 5 years. Regardless of your classification, we will conduct an immediate continuing disability review if a question of continuing disability is raised pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. [This is very frequent!]
(e) Change in classification of impairment. If the evidence developed during a continuing disability review demonstrates that your impairment has improved, is expected to improve, or has worsened since the last review, we may reclassify your impairment to reflect this change in severity. A change in the classification of your impairment will change the frequency with which we will review your case. We may also reclassify certain impairments because of improved tests, treatment, and other technical advances concerning those impairments.
(f) Review after administrative appeal. If you were found eligible to receive or to continue to receive disability benefits on the basis of a decision by an administrative law judge, the Appeals Council or a Federal court, we will not conduct a continuing disability review earlier than 3 years after that decision unless your case should be scheduled for a medical improvement expected or vocational reexamination diary review or a question of continuing disability is raised pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. [This is someone 'illusory' to me - i.e. "we won't give you another CDR unless we feel like it - given that b., a big catch all, is referenced.]
(g) Waiver of timeframes. All cases involving a nonpermanent impairment will be reviewed by us at least once every 3 years unless we, after consultation with the State agency, determine that the requirement should be waived to ensure that only the appropriate number of cases are reviewed. [You may see this - this is where, while 3 years is sought, if they are short staffed or budget is short and moneys are best appropriated elsewhere, 3 years may be pushed off - but, it also seems that it does not mean another 3 years, but could be 6 months later, or 7 or 8 or a year or two... nothing concrete here, so be on your toes - which you should be anyway.] The appropriate number of cases to be reviewed is to be based on such considerations as the backlog of pending reviews, the projected number of new applications, and projected staffing levels. Such waiver shall be given only after good faith effort on the part of the State to meet staffing requirements and to process the reviews on a timely basis. Availability of independent medical resources may also be a factor. A waiver in this context refers to our administrative discretion to determine the appropriate number of cases to be reviewed on a State by State basis. Therefore, your continuing disability review may be delayed longer than 3 years following our original decision or other review under certain circumstances. Such a delay [note it is a delay, NOT a cancellation] would be based on our need to ensure that backlogs, reviews required to be performed by the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-460), and new disability claims workloads are accomplished within available medical and other resources in the State agency and that such reviews are done carefully and accurately.
(h) If you are participating in the Ticket to Work program. If you are participating in the Ticket to Work program, we will not start a continuing disability review during the period in which you are using a ticket. However, this provision does not apply to reviews we conduct using the rules in §§ 404.1571-404.1576 to determine whether the work you have done shows that you are able to do substantial gainful activity and are, therefore, no longer disabled. [And this is the clincher, making this an insecure area to be in.] See subpart C of part 411 of this chapter.
(i) If you are working and have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months—
(1) General. Notwithstanding the provisions in paragraphs (b)(4) [Did a TWP], (b)(5) [IRS reports SGA], (b)(6)(ii) [You tell us you are back to work], (b)(7)(ii) [Your State Rehab office tells us you went back to work], and (b)(8)(iii)[a third party tells us you are back to work] of this section, we will not start a continuing disability review based solely on your work activity if—
(i) You are currently entitled to disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability; and
(ii) You have received such benefits for at least 24 months (see paragraph (i)(2) of this section).
(2) The 24-month requirement.
(i) The months for which you have actually received disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability that you were due, or for which you have constructively received such benefits, will count for the 24-month requirement under paragraph (i)(1)(ii) of this section, regardless of whether the months were consecutive. We will consider you to have constructively received a benefit for a month for purposes of the 24-month requirement if you were otherwise due a social security disability benefit for that month and your monthly benefit was withheld to recover an overpayment. Any month for which you were entitled to benefits but for which you did not actually or constructively receive a benefit payment will not be counted for the 24-month requirement. Months for which your social security disability benefits are continued under § 404.1597a pending reconsideration and/or a hearing before an administrative law judge on a medical cessation determination will not be counted for the 24-month requirement. If you also receive supplemental security income payments based on disability or blindness under title XVI of the Social Security Act, months for which you received only supplemental security income payments will not be counted for the 24-month requirement.
(ii) In determining whether paragraph (i)(1) of this section applies, we consider whether you have received disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability for at least 24 months as of the date on which we start a continuing disability review. For purposes of this provision, the date on which we start a continuing disability review is the date on the notice we send you that tells you that we are beginning to review your disability case.
(3) When we may start a continuing disability review even if you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months. Even if you meet the requirements of paragraph (i)(1) of this section, we may still start a continuing disability review for a reason(s) other than your work activity. We may start a continuing disability review if we have scheduled you for a periodic review of your continuing disability, we need a current medical or other report to see if your disability continues, we receive evidence which raises a question as to whether your disability continues, or you fail to follow the provisions of the Social Security Act or these regulations. For example, we will start a continuing disability review when you have been scheduled for a medical improvement expected diary review, and we may start a continuing disability review if you failed to report your work to us.
(4) Reviews to determine whether the work you have done shows that you are able to do substantial gainful activity. Paragraph (i)(1) of this section does not apply to reviews we conduct using the rules in §§ 404.1571-404.1576 to determine whether the work you have done shows that you are able to do substantial gainful activity and are, therefore, no longer disabled.
(5) Erroneous start of the continuing disability review. If we start a continuing disability review based solely on your work activity that results in a medical cessation determination, we will vacate the medical cessation determination if—
(i) You provide us evidence that establishes that you met the requirements of paragraph (i)(1) of this section as of the date of the start of your continuing disability review and that the start of the review was erroneous; and
(ii) We receive the evidence within 12 months of the date of the notice of the initial determination of medical cessation.