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Social Security Disability Benefits and Continuing Disability Reviews

When you first apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you may not know that the Social Security Administration conducts periodic reviews to make sure that you are still disabled. This is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR), and it takes place approximately every three years. If the SSA does not expect you to improve, the review may be conducted less frequently. Moreover, because of budget concerns, the SSA may not get around to your continuing review for five or six years.

The SSA also reviews income, resources and living arrangements. This part of the review process is called a redetermination. People with all types of disabilities can be reviewed. This includes mental illnesses such as bi-polar disorder, a condition that is sometimes called manic depression.

Bi-polar disorder is characterized by mood swings. Patients cycle between extreme euphoria and major depression. It is treated with drugs, psychotherapy and occasionally hospitalization. People with bi-polar often have difficulty showing up for work. Associated panic attacks may make them unproductive. They may exhibit poor judgement, talk too much, or be withdrawn. To summarize, their mood swings often make long-term employment impossible.

When SSD recipients have a mental illness such as bi-polar disorder, it's important to face the CDR armed with up-to-date information and a treatment plan. What follows are some tips that can help you get through a CDR.

  • Make sure your prescriptions are current and that you are taking the prescribed meds as directed.
  • Make sure that you are in treatment with a qualified mental health professional.
  • Get written evaluations of your specific ability to function from your mental health professional (psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker). Don't let them get away with simply agreeing that you are disabled.
  • Consider hiring a professional SSD advocate who will know exactly what kind of documentation you need.
  • During the review, focus on your functioning, not your diagnosis. If you have trouble concentrating, focusing, getting along with others, following-through and remembering things, talk about these examples of impaired functioning with the reviewers.

If you are receiving SSD for bi-polar disorder and are facing a Continuing Disability Review, take the time to prepare as thoroughly as possible.

If your SSD benefits were stopped after a CDR, or if you are having difficulties with your initial application for disability benefits, get the help you need and deserve. Call Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability advocates. Tell them your story and find out how they can help you.

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