If you are receiving Social Security disability (SSD) benefits in South Carolina, you need to know that your disability rating is subject to periodic review by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If the SSA decides your medical condition has improved to the extent that you can return to work, your benefits will stop.
If you have recovered and can return to work, this is a good thing, of course. But if the SSA gets it wrong, this can be a financial problem for you as well as a bureaucratic nightmare trying to get a proper disability designation.
There is an appeals process for an SSD status decision that a claimant believes is wrong. This is a multi-level process that can lead to federal court if you continue to appeal unfavorable decisions. You are not required to have a lawyer, but the federal court requires substantial legal work that must meet standard procedures.
At the law firm of Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., we believe that if you are not ready to return to work, our South Carolina disability attorneys can be of important help to you as soon as you are advised that your SSD benefits will be reviewed. We understand the procedures required to retain SSD qualification. If necessary, we can help you navigate through what may be a confusing and intimidating appeals process.
Call (803) 435-8894 or use our online contact form for a free consultation about your situation.
Will the SSA Take Away Your Disability Benefits?
Federal law requires the SSA to review the medical condition of all people receiving disability benefits from time to time to make sure they are still disabled and entitled to benefits.
You will be notified of a review in advance, but in general:
- If improvement in your condition is expected, your first review will be about 6-18 months after the date you became disabled.
- If improvement is possible, but cannot be predicted, your case will be reviewed about once every three years.
- If improvement is not expected, your case will be reviewed once every seven years.
An SSD benefits review consists of the SSA calling you in for a short interview about your condition and asking you to bring your medical records. Then, an examiner with the SSA’s Disability Determination Services office here in South Carolina will review your records and ask the doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers working with you for information about:
- Your medical condition and how it limits your activities.
- What your medical tests show.
- What medical treatments you have received.
The SSA may also ask you to undergo a medical examination or tests to measure the extent of your disability. They will pay for the exam.
From this information and prior records on file, the disability examiner and a medical consultant hired by the SSA will determine whether your medical condition has improved and, if it has, whether you are now capable of working for a living. If SSA personnel reviewing your records decide you can work, your benefit checks will be terminated.
Your SSD benefits will also end if the SSA decides:
- You have benefited from vocational training or advances in medical treatment or vocational technology that allow you to return to work.
- You are not following the treatment your doctor ordered (without a good reason), and you probably could work if you follow the recommended treatment.
- You provided false or misleading information that was used to make a previous benefits decision.
- You have not cooperated with the Social Security Administration, and you do not have a good reason for not cooperating.
- You are working and your average monthly earnings show that you are doing substantial gainful work. What the SSA considers substantial and gainful changes each year (the amount can be found online).
The SSA may also decide that an earlier decision to award or continue your disability benefits was incorrect and thus end your benefits.
There are several reasons such a review can go wrong. Chief among them is that the case examiner and consultant can simply make a mistake due to a variety of factors, including a heavy caseload and too little time to study information adequately. It is also quite easy for you or your medical providers to mistakenly submit inadequate or outdated information or information that is not clear to the examiners.
If you choose to appeal a decision, you have 60 days at each of the appeal levels below to request a hearing. The four levels of appeal are:
- Reconsideration by SSA personnel who had no part in the original decision.
- Hearing before an administrative law judge in a format like a trial.
- Appeals Council review, in which the Appeals Council may deny your appeal or send your case back to the administrative law judge for further review.
- The federal court hearing of a lawsuit that you have filed.
Let an SSD Appeals Attorney Help
A lawyer from Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., can help you every step of the way when you are subjected to a review of your SSD benefits. Don’t let incomplete or misinterpreted records keep you from retaining SSD benefits you deserve.
Contact us today at (803) 435-8894 or fill out our online form for a free initial evaluation of your case.