Q: I cannot find the answer to this anywhere. I was approved for Social Security Disability at the age of 57, even though they backdated it to when I was 55. My full retirement age is 66 . That would be 7 months from now. I have never received a CDR [Continuing Disability Review] from Social Security. Do they do CDRs when it is so close to my full retirement date? Could I just call in and tell them to give my my retirement Social Security now? If so, what percentage of my Social Security retirement benefit will I lose?
I have no doubt I have enough medical records so that a CDR would not be a problem, but my old nerves have had enough. Thank you so much for your help. -- JR, via email
A: Relax. There's a good chance you've already had a CDR without even knowing it. And in any event, there's no reason for you to sacrifice part of your monthly check by opting to take your Social Security retirement benefit seven months early!
To fill in other readers who may not know, when you collect a disability benefit, Social Security periodically reviews your medical condition. This is called a 'continuing disability review' or CDR. You keep receiving benefits unless there's strong medical evidence that your condition has improved and you're able to return to work, says Jane Zanca, a Social Security Administration spokeswoman in New York City.
'Continuing disability review' may sound as if you're under constant surveillance. But that's far from true!
How often a case is actually reviewed depends on its severity and the likelihood of improvement, says Zanca. If medical improvement is expected, the first review will be six to eighteen months after your disability benefits began. If improvement is possible, the case will be reviewed roughly every three years. If improvement isn't expected, a case is reviewed only every five to seven years.
Zanca says you may have had a CDR without even realizing it. In some cases, it consists only of a Social Security questionnaire you receive by mail. If your completed questionnaire indicates that there's no improvement, or that you're continuing to receive medical treatment, "then the CDR is closed out," she says.
In any event, Zanca says now that you're so close to your full retirement age, it's unlikely that Social Security will review your disability case. When you turn 66, you'll continue receiving the same monthly amount you do now; it will just be called a retirement benefit instead of a disability benefit.
Please send your questions to Lynn@LynnBrennersFamilyFinance.com. I'm sorry I can't respond personally to every email. Questions are only addressed online.