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Determining Continued Eligibility for SSD benefits

Once someone becomes disabled, they often think primarily about if they will qualify for benefits and how the application process works. However, it is equally important for New Jersey residents to understand what happens after an application for SSD benefits is approved and what kind of requirements exist for continuing to receive benefits.

After an application is approved, the applicant will begin receiving SSD benefits in the form of a monthly payment. These payments will continue for the duration of the person's disability. In some situations, however, changes in a person's circumstances may affect their eligibility for continued benefits. One of the most obvious changes that would have this result is improved health so that the person no longer meets the definition of disabled. Along similar lines, but yet different, is a person's decision to return to work. It may be the case in some situations that, over time, a person learns to deal with his or her disability more effectively and decides to reenter the workplace instead of relying on benefits.

In order to assess whether these or other significant and relevant changes have occurred, the SSA will review each applicant's case periodically to determine continued eligibility for benefits. People will receive notification from the SSA of a pending review. However, each individual recipient of benefits also has the responsibility and obligation to initiate communication with the SSA directly if he or she experiences improved health or decides to resume working.

The frequency with which a person's case and disability are reviewed generally depends on the expected duration of the disability. Some disabilities are expected to be permanent or eventually result in death. If the SSA characterizes a person's disability as one in which medical improvement is "not expected," reviews will generally not occur before seven years after benefits begin. If, instead, medical improvement is "possible," but not necessarily "expected," the case review often occurs no sooner than three years. For disabilities that are expected to be more short-term and for which improvement is "expected," cases are reviewed usually between six and eighteen months after benefits begin.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: Your Continuing Eligibility for Benefits," last accessed Oct. 19, 2014

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