What is the Medical Improvement Review Standard (MIRS) and Why Does it Matter?
President Ronald Reagan signed the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984 (DBRA 1984), one of the primary components of which was the provision that benefits could not be terminated without evidence of medical improvement. The MIRS is the tool with which a beneficiary’s condition is evaluated over time.
Section 2(a) of the DBRA 1984 defines the MIRS. It states that benefits cannot be terminated unless there is:
“(1) substantial evidence which demonstrates that –
(A) there has been any medical improvement in the individual’s impairment or combination of impairments (other than medical improvement in which is not related to the individual’s ability to work), and
(B) the individual is now able to engage in substantial gainful activity.”
The MIRS applies only to conditions that the individual presented with at the time of the most recent disability decision. If the SSA finds medical improvement, then conditions that have developed since the last disability decision will be considered when the SSA is deciding whether or not the individual is capable of substantial gainful activity.
Finally, if an individual has several impairments, and one of them has improved but the others have worsened, the SSA will still find medical improvement.