Can I Collect Social Security Retirement and Disability Benefits at the Same Time?
When you suffer a disabling injury or illness, you want to collect all the benefits and funds you are entitled to. After all, your life will never be the same, and you need to secure your future as best you can. Disabled individuals who are nearing retirement age may want to know if they can collect both Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) and Social Security retirement benefits at the same time.
While this may seem like an easy question to answer, the truth is that there are many variables that can affect your ability to collect benefits after a disability. Because of these variables and factors, it is important to consult with an experienced Arkansas SSDI lawyer immediately. Your attorney will be able to review the details surrounding your case to help you collect all the benefits you deserve.
Can I Receive Disability and Retirement at the Same Time?
The simplest and most straightforward answer to this question is NO. Unfortunately, the vast majority of disabled Americans cannot receive both Social Security retirement benefits and disability benefits at the same time. If you already qualify for SSDI benefits, then these benefits will be converted to retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age. There is an exception to this rule, however.
How do SSDI and Retirement work together?
Social Security disability insurance benefits exist to help Americans who suffer from a disabling injury or illness, but who cannot yet draw from their retirement benefits. If you are unable to work, but are not eligible for retirement, you need money now. The SSDI program essentially provides “early retirement” funds and benefits to individuals who are unable to work due to disability.
Once an individual reaches retirement age, they are able to draw from the full amount of retirement funds available to them. SSDI is no longer needed and simply converted to retirement benefits. In this way, both programs work together to provide much needed benefits to disabled Americans regardless of their age.
Early Retirement Exception
There is one major exception for collecting both retirement benefits and SSDI benefits. If you took early retirement at the age of 62 before becoming disabled, you may qualify to collect both. If you drew less than a full monthly retirement benefit before being approved for disability benefits, you will get the difference between the amounts. In addition, your lack of income during this time would not count towards your retirement benefits. This can be beneficial for many disabled individuals nearing retirement age.
In order to qualify for this exception, however, you must clearly establish that your disability occurred before you began taking early retirement benefits. If the Social Security Administration determines that your disability didn’t start until after retirement, they will deny your claim for SSDI benefits.
Should I Take Early Retirement?
Some individuals may benefit from taking early retirement, especially if they are disabled. If you are severely impaired and believe that you will qualify for disability benefits, you may want to consider this route.
To start, you need to apply for Social Security disability benefits to protect your filing date and establish your disabling condition. Once you have done this, you can then apply for early retirement. The SSA will accept your early retirement, as long as you meet the credit requirements. Opting for an early retirement means that you will only receive 75 percent of your full retirement benefit amount. However, once your SSDI claim is approved, you will begin receiving the full amount of retirement, as well as back pay. In addition, you will be able to receive the full amount of retirement for the rest of your life.
There is a risk, however. If you collect early retirement but are not granted disability benefits, you may be stuck collecting less than your full retirement for the rest of your life. Before taking early retirement or applying for SSDI benefits, it is important to speak to an experienced SSDI lawyer.
Supplemental Security Income and Retirement
Unlike SSDI benefits, Supplement Security Income (SSI) payments do not automatically convert to retirement benefits when you reach the age of retirement. SSI is funded by federal taxes and are available for low income elderly and disabled Americans. To continue to receive SSI payments, however, you must apply for all other cash benefits you may be entitled to receive, including SSDI and retirement.
Yet, unlike SSDI, you can receive both SSI and retirement benefits at the same time. This means that your overall monthly benefit amount will stay the same when you hit retirement. Some of this money will come in the form of retirement benefits and some will come from SSI benefits. Your disability attorney can help you through this process and ensure that you receive all the benefits you are entitled to as you near retirement.
Contact Our Arkansas SSDI Lawyers Today
Collecting disability benefits and retirement benefits can be complex, and without an attorney on your side, you may not get the benefits you deserve. At Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton our Arkansas SSDI attorneys will examine your injuries, your disabilities, and your financial situation to determine the best way to proceed as you near retirement.
With six offices in Arkansas and Tennessee—Little Rock, Fayetteville, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, and Memphis —our Arkansas and Tennessee SSDI lawyers are easily accessible from the moment you need us. Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers today. Fill out a free contact request form, which only takes a minute, or simply dial (800) 767-4815 and tell us your story.