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Will the SSA review my disability even after benefits begin? - III

In a series of posts, we've been examining how the Social Security Administration conducts periodic reviews to determine whether a person is still eligible for disability benefits, meaning their health has not improved and they are otherwise incapable of working regularly.

To that end, we discussed how this review process is largely undertaken by disability examiners and medical consultants employed by state agencies -- like the Colorado Disability Determination Services -- which forward their recommendations to the SSA.

As disconcerting as it can be to learn that the SSA has decided to stop your disability benefits based on this recommendation from a state agency, it's important for people to understand that they still have four levels of appeal to challenge this adverse decision.

Reconsideration

The first step in the appeals process is reconsideration, a process whereby an SSA official, who otherwise had no prior involvement in the decision reached in your case, will conduct a comprehensive review of both the original evidence and any new evidence you choose to submit.

Furthermore, a person is permitted to meet with the SSA official conducting the reconsideration to discuss why they believe the initial determination as to their medical condition was erroneous.

Hearing  

In the event the SSA official renders an adverse reconsideration decision, the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge who has heretofore had no involvement in the case.

Prior to the hearing, the date and location of which will be outlined via letter, you will be presented with an opportunity to review your existing file and/or supplement it with new information. It's also possible that the SSA might request additional information.

At the actual hearing, the ALJ will question you, those witnesses you bring along and other medical/vocational witnesses testifying on behalf of the SSA. It's important to understand that either you or your representative are also permitted to examine the witnesses.

Once the hearing is complete, the ALJ will consider all of the evidence and make a decision as to whether benefits should continue. A copy of this decision along with a letter summarizing its holding will be mailed to you by the SSA.

We'll conclude this discussion in our next post, examining the final two steps in the appeals process and whether your disability benefits can continue for as long as you challenge any adverse determinations.    

Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you would like to learn more about the medical review process or have questions about disability benefits.

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