The Social Security Administration (“Social Security”) notified Max they were reviewing his Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. He was concerned, but he knew that Social Security evaluates a benefit recipient’s medical condition every so often. However, Max did worry about the term ‘medical improvement.’ He wondered what it meant and how medical improvements affect a disability claim. That’s what we will explore in this article.
What is medical improvement?
One section of the Code of Federal Regulations (federal law) is titled “How we will determine whether your disability continues or ends.” This section defines ‘medical improvement’ as:
“… any decrease in the medical severity of your impairment(s) which was present at the time of the most recent favorable medical decision that you were disabled or continued to be disabled. A determination that there has been a decrease in medical severity must be based on improvement in the symptoms, signs, and/or laboratory findings associated with your impairment(s).”
Medical improvement occurs when your impairment has improved since the last time you received a favorable decision.
What will Social Security look for?
During a continuing disability review (CDR) of your case, Social Security staff look at your current symptoms and lab tests. Then, they compare this information to the comparison point decision (CPD), noting any changes. Even if there is a change only in your symptoms, not your medical tests, Social Security caseworkers may see medical improvement.
Your healthcare providers may be asked to comment on any changes in your condition. Also, he or she may give an opinion on your medical improvement, if any. Social Security may consider your medical history and medical records during a continuing disability review.
Finally, some medical conditions can go into temporary remission. For example, a person with lung cancer may start receiving SSDI benefits, then go into remission. Social Security usually will not consider a temporary remission to be medical improvement.
What happens to your disability claim after a medical improvement review?
Social Security staff may decide how medical improvement affects your disability claim. If you are unable to perform your previous job, they may check to see if you can do a different type of work. If you cannot, benefits probably will continue. However, if Social Security decides you can go back to work, benefits might stop.
Social Security may change your benefits if they see medical improvement in the condition that caused your disability. This is by no means a given. Also, remember that you might be able to appeal any adverse decision Social Security makes.
Ask a Disability Lawyer How Medical Improvement Affects Your Disability Claim
Applying for benefits was confusing, and the confusion may continue when you go through a continuing disability review. If Social Security decides your medical improvement affects your disability claim, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience helping clients like you. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.