(a) General. We conduct continuing disability reviews to determine whether or not you continue to meet the disability or blindness requirements of the law. Payment ends if the medical or other evidence shows that you are not disabled or blind as determined under the standards set out in section 1614(a) of the Social Security Act if you receive benefits based on disability or § 416.986 of this subpart if you receive benefits based on blindness. In paragraphs (b) through (g) of this section, we explain when and how often we conduct continuing disability reviews for most individuals. In paragraph (h) of this section, we explain special rules for some individuals who are participating in the Ticket to Work program. In paragraph (i) of this section, we explain special rules for some individuals who work and have received social security benefits as well as supplemental security income payments.
(3) We need a current medical or other report to see if your disability continues. (This could happen when, for example, an advance in medical technology, such as improved treatment for Alzheimer's disease, or a change in vocational therapy or technology raises a disability issue);
(i) You have recovered from your disability; or
(ii) You have returned to work;
(i) The services have been completed; or
(ii) You are now working; or
(iii) You are able to work;
(i) You are not disabled or blind; or
(ii) You are not following prescribed treatment; or
(iii) You have returned to work; or
(iv) You are failing to follow the provisions of the Social Security Act or these regulations;
(11) By your first birthday, if you are a child whose low birth weight was a contributing factor material to our determination that you were disabled; i.e., whether we would have found you disabled if we had not considered your low birth weight. However, we will conduct your continuing disability review later if at the time of our initial determination that you were disabled:
(i) We determine that you have an impairment that is not expected to improve by your first birthday; and
(ii) We schedule you for a continuing disability review after your first birthday.
Medical improvement expected diary —refers to a case which is scheduled for review at a later date because the individual's impairment(s) is expected to improve. Generally, the diary period is set for not less than 6 months or for not more than 18 months. Examples of cases likely to be scheduled for medical improvement expected diary are fractures and cases in which corrective surgery is planned and recovery can be anticipated.
Permanent impairment—medical improvement not expected— refers to a case in which any medical improvement in a person's impairment(s) is not expected. This means an extremely severe condition determined on the basis of our experience in administering the disability programs to be at least static, but more likely to be progressively disabling either by itself or by reason of impairment complications, and unlikely to improve so as to permit the individual to engage in substantial gainful activity or, if you are a child, unlikely to improve to the point that you will no longer have marked and severe functional limitations. The interaction of the individual's age, impairment consequences and the lack of recent attachment to the labor market may also be considered in determining whether an impairment is permanent. Improvement which is considered temporary under § 416.994(b)(2)(iv)(D) or § 416.994(c)(2)(iv), as appropriate, will not be considered in deciding if an impairment is permanent. Examples of permanent impairments taken from the list contained in our other written guidelines which are available for public review are as follows and are not intended to be all inclusive:
Nonpermanent impairment —refers to a case in which any medical improvement in the person's impairment(s) is possible. This means an impairment for which improvement cannot be predicted based on current experience and the facts of the particular case but which is not at the level of severity of an impairment that is considered permanent. Examples of nonpermanent impairments are: Regional enteritis, hyperthyroidism, and chronic ulcerative colitis.
Vocational reexamination diary —refers to a case which is scheduled for review at a later date because the individual is undergoing vocational therapy, training or an educational program which may improve his or her ability to work so that the disability or blindness requirement of the law is no longer met. Generally, the diary period will be set for the length of the training, therapy, or program of education.
(d) Frequency of review. If your impairment is expected to improve, generally we will review your continuing eligibility for payments based on disability or blindness at intervals from 6 months to 18 months following our most recent decision. Our notice to you about the review of your case will tell you more precisely when the review will be conducted. If your disability is not considered permanent but is such that any medical improvement in your impairment(s) cannot be accurately predicted, we will review your continuing eligibility for payments at least once every 3 years. If your disability is considered permanent, we will review your continuing eligibility for payments no less frequently than once every 7 years but no more frequently than once every 5 years. Regardless of your classification we will conduct an immediate continuing disability review if a question of continuing disability is raised pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.
(e) Change in classification of impairment. If the evidence developed during a continuing disability review demonstrates that your impairment has improved, is expected to improve, or has worsened since the last review, we may reclassify your impairment to reflect this change in severity. A change in the classification of your impairment will change the frequency with which we will review your case. We may also reclassify certain impairments because of improved tests, treatment, and other technical advances concerning those impairments.
(f) Review after administrative appeal. If you were found eligible to receive or to continue to receive, payments on the basis of a decision by an administrative law judge, the Appeals Council or a Federal court, we will not conduct a continuing disability review earlier than 3 years after that decision unless your case should be scheduled for a medical improvement expected or vocational reexamination diary review or a question of continuing disability is raised pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.
(g) Waiver of timeframes. All cases involving a nonpermanent impairment will be reviewed by us at least once every 3 years unless we, after consultation with the State agency, determine that the requirement should be waived to ensure that only the appropriate number of cases are reviewed. The appropriate number of cases to be reviewed is to be based on such considerations as the backlog of pending reviews, the projected number of new applications, and projected staffing levels. Such waiver shall be given only after good faith effort on the part of the State to meet staffing requirements and to process the reviews on a timely basis. Availability of independent medical resources may also be a factor. A waiver in this context refers to our administrative discretion to determine the appropriate number of cases to be reviewed on a State by State basis. Therefore, your continuing disability review may be delayed longer than 3 years following our original decision or other review under certain circumstances. Such a delay would be based on our need to ensure that backlogs, reviews required to be performed by the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act (Pub. L. 98-460), and new disability claims workloads are accomplished within available medical and other resources in the State agency and that such reviews are done carefully and accurately.
(h) If you are participating in the Ticket to Work program. If you are participating in the Ticket to Work program, we will not start a continuing disability review during the period in which you are using a ticket. See subpart C of part 411 of this chapter.
(i) If you are working and have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months —(1) General. Notwithstanding the provisions in paragraphs (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6)(ii), (b)(7)(ii), and (b)(8)(iii) of this section, we will not start a continuing disability review based solely on your work activity if—
(i) You are currently entitled to disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability under title II of the Social Security Act (see subpart D of part 404 of this chapter); and
(ii) You have received such benefits for at least 24 months (see paragraph (i)(2) of this section).
(2) The 24-month requirement. (i) The months for which you have actually received disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability that you were due under title II of the Social Security Act, or for which you have constructively received such benefits, will count for the 24-month requirement under paragraph (i)(1)(ii) of this section, regardless of whether the months were consecutive. We will consider you to have constructively received a benefit for a month for purposes of the 24-month requirement if you were otherwise due a social security disability benefit for that month and your monthly benefit was withheld to recover an overpayment. Any month for which you were entitled to social security disability benefits but for which you did not actually or constructively receive a benefit payment will not be counted for the 24-month requirement. Months for which your social security disability benefits are continued under § 404.1597a pending reconsideration and/or a hearing before an administrative law judge on a medical cessation determination will not be counted for the 24-month requirement. Months for which you received only supplemental security income payments will not be counted for the 24-month requirement.
(ii) In determining whether paragraph (i)(1) of this section applies, we consider whether you have received disability insurance benefits as a disabled worker, child's insurance benefits based on disability, or widow's or widower's insurance benefits based on disability under title II of the Social Security Act for at least 24 months as of the date on which we start a continuing disability review. For purposes of this provision, the date on which we start a continuing disability review is the date on the notice we send you that tells you that we are beginning to review your disability case.
(3) When we may start a continuing disability review even if you have received social security disability benefits for at least 24 months. Even if you meet the requirements of paragraph (i)(1) of this section, we may still start a continuing disability review for a reason(s) other than your work activity. We may start a continuing disability review if we have scheduled you for a periodic review of your continuing disability, we need a current medical or other report to see if your disability continues, we receive evidence which raises a question as to whether your disability or blindness continues, or you fail to follow the provisions of the Social Security Act or these regulations. For example, we will start a continuing disability review when you have been scheduled for a medical improvement expected diary review, and we may start a continuing disability review if you failed to report your work to us.
(4) Erroneous start of the continuing disability review. If we start a continuing disability review based solely on your work activity that results in a medical cessation determination, we will vacate the medical cessation determination if—
(i) You provide us evidence that establishes that you met the requirements of paragraph (i)(1) of this section as of the date of the start of your continuing disability review and that the start of the review was erroneous; and
(ii) We receive the evidence within 12 months of the date of the notice of the initial determination of medical cessation.
[51 FR 16826, May 7, 1986, as amended at 62 FR 6430, Feb. 11, 1997; 65 FR 54790, Sept. 11, 2000; 71 FR 66858, Nov. 17, 2006]