- Should I Choose Early Retirement or Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Should I Choose Early Retirement or Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
As individuals approach their retirement years, they typically have two options: early retirement and Social Security disability benefits. While both offer financial support, they also cater to different circumstances.
In this blog post, we will talk about the key differences between early retirement and Social Security Disability to help you navigate these choices and make an informed decision.
Early Retirement: To be eligible for early retirement, you must generally be at least 62 years old, which is before the standard full retirement age. While you can access your retirement benefits early, keep in mind that your monthly Social Security payments will be reduced if claimed before reaching full retirement age.
Social Security Disability Benefits: Unlike early retirement, Social Security disability benefits are designed to provide financial support to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last for at least a year or result in death. Eligibility is contingent on meeting specific medical criteria and having sufficient work credits earned through Social Security taxes.
Purpose and Timing
Early Retirement: Early retirement allows individuals to leave the workforce sooner. It is often pursued by those who have accumulated enough savings and investments to sustain their lifestyle without relying solely on Social Security benefits.
Social Security Disability Benefits: Social Security disability is intended to be a safety net for individuals facing disabling conditions that prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. This support comes into play when a person is unable to continue working and earning income due to a severe and long-term disability.
Early Retirement: Choosing early retirement may result in reduced Social Security benefits, as mentioned earlier. The reduction is applied for each month you claim benefits before reaching full retirement age. Therefore, if you claim benefits at age 62, you could see a significant decrease in your monthly payments compared to waiting until your full retirement age.
Social Security Disability Benefits: If approved for Social Security Disability, the amount you receive is based on your earnings history, like retirement benefits. However, unlike early retirement, there are no penalties or reductions for claiming disability benefits before reaching a specific age.
Early Retirement: Income from investments or pensions do not affect early retirement. Work activity can reduce your monthly early retirement amount based on SSA’s set yearly earnings limit.
Social Security Disability Benefits: While receiving Social Security disability benefits, there are limits on the amount of additional income you can earn from substantial gainful activity (SGA). If your earnings exceed the SGA threshold, your disability benefits may be affected.
Medical Condition Requirements
Early Retirement: Early retirement does not consider medical conditions as eligibility criteria. It is purely based on age and the ability to meet the minimum age requirement for claiming retirement benefits.
Social Security Disability Benefits: To qualify for Social Security Disability, you must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. The condition should be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity and should be expected to last for at least a year or result in death.
Overall, early retirement and Social Security disability benefits serve different purposes and have certain eligibility criteria and financial implications. The decision between the two options depends on your age, financial readiness, health condition and long-term goals. Understanding these differences will enable you to make the best choice for your unique circumstances. As always, it is advisable to consult with financial advisors or a Social Security Disability Lawyer to receive personalized guidance on your specific situation.
If you have been denied disability benefits or need to apply, contact the lawyers of Berger and Green for a free consultation of your case.