You generally cannot collect Social Security disability benefits at the same time you receive retirement benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security retirement benefits both provide income for those who no longer work; the former due to disability and the latter after reaching retirement age. They are redundant, and thus you cannot receive both at the same time. If you receive SSDI, it will convert to retirement benefits once you reach the full retirement age.
However, there are two important exceptions:
- If you collect early retirement benefits and can prove your disability started before you started receiving the retirement benefits, your benefit amount may increase and you may be entitled to retroactive benefits because you are disabled.
- You may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as well as retirement benefits.
SSDI and Early Retirement Benefits
If you decide to take early retirement benefits but your disability started prior to your full retirement age, you may be able to increase your benefit amount and collect retroactive benefits. You would need to prove not only that you are disabled but also that your disability started before you reached full retirement age.
Some people who become disabled after 60 may decide that taking early retirement benefits is easier than applying for SSDI. But early retirement benefits are less than they would be at full retirement age, while SSDI is equal to your benefits at full retirement age. So it is preferable to receive SSDI rather than early retirement benefits if your disability starts before full retirement age.
If you think your disability began before you reached full retirement age, talk to a lawyer at Berger and Green about your options.
SSI and Retirement Benefits
SSI is a benefit for individuals who are disabled, aged (65 or older), or blind, and who have limited income and resources.
The SSA counts various things as income when determining eligibility, including any Social Security benefits you receive. If you worked long enough to qualify for retirement benefits and you still meet the SSI’s low income and resource requirements (as well as the disability, blindness, or aged requirement), you may also receive a supplemental amount if your regular Social Security benefit is lower than the SSI amount.
Talk to a Social Security disability lawyer at Berger and Green if you have any further questions or need help pursuing disability benefits. Call 412-661-1400.