Stricter Disability Reviews

There has been a noticeable increase in the frequency and rigor of disability reviews within the SSDI
program, aimed at ensuring ongoing eligibility and appropriate benefit levels for recipients. These reviews
are essential for maintaining the integrity of the program and ensuring that benefits are allocated to those
who continue to meet the criteria for disability as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Purpose and Importance of Disability Reviews
Disability reviews, also known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs), are conducted periodically to
assess whether SSDI recipients still meet the medical and non-medical eligibility requirements for
disability benefits. The primary goal is to verify that individuals continue to experience a severe
impairment that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

Types of Disability Reviews
There are different types of disability reviews based on the severity and expected duration of the
recipient’s impairment. Scheduled CDRs are conducted at regular intervals depending on the severity of
the disability and the likelihood of improvement. Medical improvement expected (MIE) CDRs are
triggered when there is an indication that a recipient’s condition has improved to the extent that they may
no longer meet the disability criteria. Age 18 redeterminations are conducted when individuals who
received benefits as children reach adulthood to determine if they meet the adult disability criteria.

Process and Evaluation Criteria

During a disability review, the SSA evaluates medical evidence provided by the recipient’s healthcare
providers and may request additional examinations or documentation to assess the current severity of
the impairment. Non-medical factors such as work activity and income may also be reviewed to
determine if the recipient’s earnings exceed SGA thresholds, which can affect benefit eligibility.

Technological Advancements and Data Analytics
Advancements in technology and data analytics have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of
disability reviews. Automated systems help identify cases that may warrant review based on changes in
medical status, work activity reports, or other triggers. Data analytics allow the SSA to prioritize cases for
review based on risk factors and historical data trends, ensuring that resources are allocated to cases
most likely to result in changes to benefit status.

Outcomes and Support Services
Based on the results of a disability review, the SSA may continue benefits without change, adjust benefit
amounts based on earnings or medical improvement, suspend benefits if eligibility criteria are no longer
met, or terminate benefits if the recipient’s condition has improved sufficiently to engage in SGA.
Recipients have the right to appeal decisions through the SSA’s appeals process and may receive
assistance from disability advocacy organizations or legal representatives during this process.

Impact on Program Integrity
The rigorous conduct of disability reviews contributes to the integrity of the SSDI program by ensuring
that benefits are reserved for those who continue to meet the stringent eligibility criteria. This helps
prevent improper payments and ensures that taxpayer funds are used responsibly to support individuals
with severe disabilities who are unable to engage in substantial work activity.

In conclusion, the increase in the frequency and rigor of disability reviews underscores the SSA’s
commitment to maintaining the accuracy and fairness of the SSDI program. By conducting thorough
evaluations and leveraging technological advancements, the SSA strives to uphold program integrity
while ensuring that eligible individuals receive the support they need to maintain financial stability and
independence despite their disabilities. These reviews are a crucial component of the SSDI framework,
aimed at balancing accountability with compassion in the administration of disability benefits.