Disability Recipients Must Notify the Social Security Administration of Significant Health Improvements
Those who receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits have a wide variety of responsibilities, including reporting requirements. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is strict about evaluating the eligibility of all disability recipients to ensure that no ineligible recipients are drawing money away from the system.
Disabilities are not always static. Over time, with sufficient effort and treatment, it’s possible that your condition improves. Let’s take a closer look at what that means as far as your communication with the SSA.
Medical Improvements Must Be Reported
As a Social Security disability recipient, you have a duty to report any significant medical improvement that could have an impact on your eligibility to receive benefits. Though it may seem frightening to actively notify the SSA as to your condition (thus provoking further investigation into your eligibility), this requirement cannot be avoided.
Whether a medical improvement is worth reporting depends on the nature of the improvement and its impact on your ability to work. If you are suffering from motor neurological issues, for example, and you experience slight improvement in your balance, but not enough to ensure that you can return to work, then you may not have to report it. On the other hand, if you were previously paralyzed and are now beginning to move the paralyzed limb(s), then that is likely significant enough to report.
Continuing Disability Reviews Are Periodic
When you report an improvement to your medical condition to the SSA, this triggers an immediate “Disability Review” during which your eligibility to receive disability benefits will be evaluated.
It’s worth noting that even if you do not actively report an improvement in your medical condition, the SSA will likely discover that your condition has improved at a later date — the SSA conducts Disability Reviews periodically, with a frequency that is established based on the nature of your disabling condition. For example, if your disability is one from which many people eventually recover functionality over time, the SSA may require that you undergo frequent disability reviews (once every year or two) to ensure that you are still eligible to receive benefits.
What Happens if You Don’t Report?
If you do not report a medical improvement that could potentially impact your disability benefits, then you may be exposed to substantial civil and criminal penalties. Further, if your condition improved to the point where you would no longer qualify for benefits, the SSA may demand that you return disability benefits that were paid out after you became ineligible due to the improvements in your condition.
If you are currently receiving SSD benefits, and feel as though your health is improving such that your disability status may be called into question, then it’s important that you consult an experienced Social Security disability lawyer for guidance on how to proceed. With the help of a qualified attorney, you can take steps to ensure a smooth recovery from your disability without losing access to critical benefits too early.