Back in the mid-1980’s, Congress enacted the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) adopted a Medical Improvement Review Standard (MIRS) to provide a method to evaluate whether a person’s disability had improved to the point that the person is capable once again of engaging in substantial gainful activity (work). Congress mandated that disability benefits can only be terminated if “such finding [of medical improvement] is supported by — (1) substantial evidence which demonstrates that — (A) there has been any medical improvement in the individual’s impairment or combination of impairments (other than medical improvement which is not related to the individual’s ability to work), and (B) the individual is now able to engage in substantial gainful activity.” (Section 2(a) of the Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984.) Reviews are done every three years in many cases.42 USC 421(i). Regulations can be found at 20 CFR 416.988 – 994. See also http://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi
If the person’s condition is worse than it was when their benefits were granted, or if the condition has remained unchanged, benefits cannot be terminated. The concept of “medical improvement” focuses on the impairments that were present when the benefits were finally approved. If there were multiple impairments and one has improved but the other has worsened, the SSA can still find that there has been “medical improvement.”
The SSA conducts Continuing Disability Reviews – CDRs – on a regular basis. It is important for recipients of benefits to continue to document their ongoing medical impairments, so that they are prepared to address the facts when they receive Notice that their case is being reviewed.
Call us about Social Security Disability and SSI applications and appeals … 732-382-6070