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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
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Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) are rarely conducted using an investigative approach.  Most reviews will begin by mail asking you to fill out forms and to submit them to the local office. Then the CDR process continues very much the same way an initial disability claim is processed.  The local office develops any technical issues, such as work activity. The Department of Disability Determination (DDS) obtains the medical evidence needed to determine whether your medical condition has improved. Some cases might require additional information, such as a consultative examination. Investigations as described in this article are generally only used as part of a potential fraud investigation - but there may also be a spot check.

If an investigator comes calling, you have no choice about whether to submit to the review if you want to keep your benefits.

What to expect

  • Investigators only ask questions.
  • There will not be a physical exam. While investigators probably had some training classes on medical conditions, investigators will not give you a physical examination. You may be asked to take a consultative exam. If so, read our article about consultative examinations.

It is advisable to prepare for the meeting. Read our tips for taking control of the meeting.

How To Prepare For The Meeting With An Investigator

Investigators usually ask questions similar to those that were on the claim forms, including:

  • Why you can't work
  • When your illness began
  • When you stopped working and, perhaps,
  • What your current symptoms are.

It will help to review your claim form and attachments thoroughly before the meeting so your answers are consistent with what you previously told Social Security.

Also note any new symptoms to bring to the investigator's attention. Just as when you filed the disability claim in the first place. It would be helpful to mention how each of those symptoms would impact in a negative way on your ability to do your former job.  

Investigators usually also ask about your daily life, including how you spend your time, how chores like house cleaning, laundry, and shopping get done and how you spend your time.

Investigators also might ask you to describe a "typical day." Give the details, but keep in mind the bad days as well as the good ones. If a symptom impacts your daily life, be sure to tell the investigator that.  For example, if you eat cold cereal for breakfast because you don't have the energy to cook, don't just say you have cereal for breakfast, but say that you have cold cereal for breakfast and why. If you take a lot of naps or you can't read or focus on a movie, let the investigator know.

As you speak with an investigator, keep in mind that while an investigator will ask about your daily routine on disability, his or her real focus is on your ability to perform job related duties. Keep this in mind when answering questions about how long you can stand, or walk, sit, or concentrate, or remember things. It doesn't hurt to periodically relate a symptom to work, as in, "I can't even watch a movie on television without losing track of what's going on. No wonder, I had such trouble keeping track of inventory at work." Just be sure not to overdo it.

Occasionally investigators may try to rattle you with a contradiction between one of your statements and that of your doctor or employer. Don't fall for it. Information from three different people is not going to be identical. Differences happen, so don't be embarrassed about them or get defensive. If you do get defensive, an investigator may think you're hiding something.

Tips To Help Keep Control Of The Meeting With An Investigator

  • Interviews with an investigator can be difficult. If you don't answer, or if you hesitate to answer a question, he or she might think you're hiding something. Although the investigator may be quite pleasant, an investigator is not your friend.
  • You don't have to fit their schedule. Whether an investigator calls for an appointment, or possibly shows up unannounced -- if it's not convenient, tell the investigator so and ask that s/he come back another time. Better yet, schedule a definite appointment for a time that works for both of you.
  • Don't refuse to meet with the investigator. You could be cut off.
  • Consider having someone else present. If you have a counselor or other knowledgeable friend or acquaintance, ask them to be there, even if it's just to listen. They can witness what was said should it become important later.
  • Get the investigator's business card. You want a record of the identity of the person with whom you talk.
  • Don't prepare too much. You don't have to appear in a robe, fresh out of your sick bed and barely able to walk or talk. Conversely, it's probably better that when you meet with the investigator you don't look as if you're in the middle of training for the triathlon or dressed for a tennis date when they arrive either. Think about your answers before the meeting, and maybe even review them with a friend or family member but don't try to memorize your answers or prepare a speech. The key is to know what you want to say rather than how you say it.
  • Take notes. Have a pad and pen with you for the interview. You don't have to write down everything that's said, but keep track of the types of questions asked. Write down anything that seems questionable, noting the language used by the investigator as much as possible. If you prefer, ask someone else to take notes for you, or, with the investigator's permission, tape record the conversation
  • Be assertive if necessary. If an investigator asks inappropriate questions, such as questions that are too personal or irrelevant to the status of your disability, politely ask the reason for the questions. Usually the interviewer will back down. If he doesn't, you can say you are uncomfortable answering that question at the moment, write the question down on your pad, and ask the investigator to send you a letter asking the question in writing with an explanation of its relevance.
  • Don't panic. The claim or a continuation of your benefit will not rise or fall on the one interview. So don't worry if you don't think it went well.
  • Don't lose sight of the purpose. Despite all the questions about your daily activities, your medications and your doctor's visits, and the investigator's seeming personal concern about you, the point of it all is to determine whether or not you meet the definition of disability for purposes of SSDI, not whether you are "disabled" in general or to become a friend.