If the Social Security Administration approves you for disability benefits, they re-confirm your eligibility every 3, 5 or 7 years. In other words, your first claim approval isn’t supposed to last forever! To ensure you still qualify for monthly SSD benefits, the SSA mails a short form for you to fill out. Then, they need you to complete this form and mail it back for re-approval before sending any more disability checks. It’s known as a Disability Update Report (sometimes referred to as Form SSA-455-BK).
What’s a Disability Update Report?
Your Disability Update Report is a self-help mailer form. The SSA created it to gather information from disabled claimants currently receiving benefits. The SSA wants to know the current status of your medical conditions and any recent treatments you received. (In this case, recent means any time a doctor treated you within the last two years.) The form also asks for information updates that happened during this two-year period, such as:
- Any education or training you received
- Your attempts to start working again, if any
What’s important to know is this: No human being reviews your completed Disability Update Report form. Instead, a computer scans it after you mail it back to the SSA. Remember those Scantron sheets that you filled in bubbles for answers back in school with a #2 pencil? Your Disability Update Report form is essentially the same thing.
How Can You Get Reapproved for Benefits Using This Form?
Don’t let all this school test talk stress you out — getting reapproved for benefits is easier than you think. The SSA says only 2.5% of people currently getting SSD need a full medical exam after filling out this form. You’re most likely to pass the computer scan and keep your benefits if all the following statements are true:
- You are not working.
- You’re not in school.
- Your condition’s the same, worse or your total combined symptoms are the same or worse than they were before.
- You can list three recent doctor/therapy/hospital visits with correct treatment dates.
- Your doctor hasn’t talked to you about working again, or says that you still can’t work.
Why Do You Have to Do This?
You have to submit a new Disability Update Report form every so often because it’s the law. Section 221(i) of the Social Security Act requires all disabled beneficiaries to undergo another eligibility review every few years. The soonest you’ll receive a Disability Update Report form is three years after the SSA approves your first disability claim. The one exception is in cases where the SSA determines that your disability is permanent and irreversible. An example where you won’t have to complete this Disability Update Report every few years is if you’re born blind.
What Disability Update Report Questions Will You Have to Answer?
Here are some questions on the Disability Update Report you have to answer every single time to keep getting benefits:
- Within the last 2 years have you worked for someone or been self-employed?
- Would you be interested in receiving rehabilitation or other services that could help you get back to work?
- Within the last 2 years has your doctor told you that you can return to work?
Smart Tips for Completing Your Disability Update Report
Filling out forms isn’t an activity most people enjoy. We want to make the process as easy as possible for you while protecting your monthly benefits. It’s best to avoid the SSA demanding you show up in person for another medical exam to prove you’re disabled. Here are some bonus tips for making sure your Disability Update Report doesn’t trigger a human review and medical exam:
- Copy the blank form first in case you make a mistake while filling yours out.
- Don’t write in the form’s margins, on the back or in the “remarks” section unless you really need to. Why? You don’t want to confuse the machine scanner. If the SSA can’t scan your Disability Update Report form, they’ll ask you to come in for a medical exam.
- Use the SSA’s website to change your mailing address, if needed, but don’t use this form. If you change contact information on your Disability Update Report, the computer requires a person to sign off on it.
- Don’t forget to sign it! Also, make a copy of your completed form for your records. Mail gets lost or destroyed sometimes. You might need that copy, and life will be so much easier if you already have it ready to go.
- Mail the form back alone, without any attachments. You want to send your Disability Update Report back in as standard a format as possible. No staples or paperclips, please!
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Fighting the SSA to keep your much-needed benefits can be frustrating. If the agency decides you no longer qualify and stop paying you benefits every month, you still have options. Consult a lawyer to discuss appealing your benefits termination. All disability lawyers work on contingency. That means if the SSA doesn’t award you benefits, then you pay $0 for legal assistance. But if you do win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation now!