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After obtaining an award, most people want to know when their social security disability benefits get reviewed.  Of course, you would want to know if there is any risk in losing entitlement to benefits.   The conventional wisdom on this suggests that benefits will come under review every three years or so.  It’s a little more complex than that.

When you become entitled to benefits, the Social Security Administration makes a note in their files about their expectations of your potential to recover from your medical conditions and return to work.  They will place you into one of three different categories:  Medical Improvement Expected, Medical Improvement Possible, and Medical Improvement Not Expected.

Medical Improvement Expected

You will be placed in the MIE category if you are expected to get better with treatment and have a chance at returning to work.  Maybe you are recovering from an accident and had back surgery.  With time and treatment, you may recover your functional abilities and be able to go back to work.  When medical improvement is expected, your social security disability benefits get reviewed in six to eighteen months from the date you were awarded benefits. This gives the Adminstration a chance to see how your recovery is going.  If you are still disabled, benefits will continue.  If you are now able to return to work, then your benefits could be modified (based on your earnings) or they could be terminated entirely.

Medical Improvement Possible

In the Medical Improvement Possible category, the Administration has determined that it is possible for you to improve over time, but not likely.  They will want to take a look at your situation after about 3 years to see how things are going.  Benefits will continue if you remain disabled and another review could come up again sometime in the next 5 years.

Medical Improvement Not Expected

If medical improvement is not expected, then you will not come up for review for five to seven years.  In this category, there is no expectation that you will ever return to work.  This category is assigned to people with significant conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, blindness, deafness, or some other condition that seems permanent. When you are in this category, you will usually receive benefits until you hit retirement age.  At that point, your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits.

Social security disability benefits get reviewed based upon the severity and the permanency of your medical conditions. The more severe and permanent your condition is, the longer it will be before your case comes up for review. It is important that you continue with periodic medical examinations. Documenting your ongoing disability will give you the best chance to continue receiving benefits after a review.