Massachusetts residents who are suffering from an injury, illness or condition that prevents them from working or limits their ability to work could be approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Simply being approved for disability does not mean that the person will continue to get the benefits indefinitely. There are rules that must be adhered to and the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that the recipient take part in periodic disability reviews to ensure that there has not been an improvement and the person should continue getting SSD benefits. Understanding disability reviews is important to maintaining the benefits.

The reviews will be done whether the person is getting SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The time-frame for when the reviews will take place hinges on the medical condition the person suffers from. If it is a condition where improvement is expected, the initial review will be within six to 18 months following the date of disability. If the improvement is possible, but it is not predictable, the case will be reviewed around every three years. If no improvement is expected, the case will be reviewed every seven years.

In general, if there is no improvement to the person’s condition, the benefits will continue. The Disability Determination Services (DDS) will assess the evidence again for the Social Security Administration. Those who are suffering from more than one disability will have them considered in the context of being able to work. In the review, the person will be asked about the condition and if it has improved. The treating physicians will provide information as will other medical sources. Those who have tried to work while getting SSD benefits must provide information about the work attempt.

When DDS has made the decision and the benefits are stopped, there are the same four levels of appeal as there were when the initial application was made: reconsideration, hearing, Appeals Council and federal court. The benefits will generally stop if the evidence indicates that the condition has improved sufficiently for the person to get back into the workforce.

It is natural to be fearful when getting SSD benefits and facing a disability review. Understanding that this is simply a basic part of the process can ease some of those fears. However, there is a chance that the review will result in the benefits being stopped.