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Mailer Review


One technique Social Security uses to determine if you are still disabled while collecting benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is the Mailer Review. A Mailer Review is as its name describes: it is a review by mail.

A Mailer Review starts by Social Security mailing you form SSA-455-OCR-SM.

The Mailer Review form SSA-455-OCR-SM is not available on line. However, an earlier form which requests the same information is available at offsite link

A description of the questions, and advice about the answers, follows:

During the report period, have you worked for someone or been self employed? If yes, provide

  • Month and year work began
  • Month and year work ended
  • Monthly earnings (in dollars, not cents)

Before you answer this question, note:

  • The form requests your gross earnings
    • If your gross earnings are greater than $940 a month in 2013 (this amount changes from year to year), Social Security may require a Full Medical Review. However, you are permitted to deduct from your gross earnings work related expenses for which you are not reimbursed (see IRWE) and earnings which are considered to be subsidized. (See Subsidized Earnings.)
    • If you have any expenses that could be called IRWE or income that could be called subsidized earnings, list each amount with an explanation in the Remarks Section of the form. If there isn't enough room, attach an additional sheet (including your name and social security number.)
    • Include any special accommodations you received at work. (See Work: Accommodations.)

Have you attended any school or work training program(s) during the report period?  Yes/no

Before you answer this question, note

  • If you answer "yes", Social Security will look to see if your skill level has changed so you may be qualified for a job in the economy that you weren't qualified for the last time the question was on the table. If you attended a course that required a lot of time, it may also indicate that you are better able to concentrate or that you can move about more than you could before.
  • Keeping in mind what Social Security is looking for with this question, explain in the Remarks section any facts which work against Social Security's assumptions. For instance, describe the content of the course. Without mentioning whether it affected your skills, Social Security will be able to make such a determination from the description. Also, let Social Security know if:
    • you missed a lot of classes, or
    • didn't complete the course, or
    • did really poorly in the class, or
    • you took the course from home on the internet at your schedule when you were feeling okay.

During the report period, choose one of the following:

  • My doctor and I have not discussed whether I can work
  • My doctor told me I cannot work
  • My doctor told me I can work

Before you answer this question, note:

  • Social Security is asking about whether you are able from a medical point of view to work on a "Regular and Continuing Basis" (8 hours a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule). This is not about part time work.

Choose one of the following which best describes your health now as compared to the beginning date of the report period

  • Better
  • Same
  • Worse

Before you answer this question, note:

  • You were awarded SSD because of the effect the symptoms and other effects of your health condition had on your ability to work. This question relates to how your health condition still affects (impairs) your ability to work.
  • If you answer "Better" you are likely to trigger a Full Medical Review. If you answer "Same," there may be the same result, though the likelihood is a little less. In either event, as always, answer the question honestly.

Have you gone to a doctor or clinic for treatment during the report period? Yes/no. If yes, list:

  • The reason for each visit
  • Month and year

Before you answer this question, note:

  • Social Security expects that the answer will be "yes," and that you went for treatment as often as would be expected for a condition like yours.
  • Ask your doctor what s/he thinks would have been a reasonable series of treatments during the reporting period requested in the form.
  • If you didn't go for treatment, or if you went for less than the doctor thinks would have been expected, explain why in the Remarks section. For example, no further treatments were prescribed, or you couldn't afford them.

Have you been hospitalized or had surgery during the report period? Yes/No. If yes, list:

  • Reason for Hospitalization or Surgery
  • Month and year

Before you answer this question, note:

  • If the reason for the hospitalization or surgery could have increased your ability to work, explain in the Remarks section why it didn't. If it resulted in a lessening of your ability to work, mention it, including specifics of what you can no longer do because of the hospitalization or surgery.

Would you be interested in receiving rehabilitation or other services that could help you get back to work?

Before you answer this question, note:

  • Social Security has been known to be lax about referring people to rehabilitation. If you are interested in vocational rehabilitation, speak with your doctor or other health care provider for advice.

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