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Can You Apply For Disability If Already On Social Security?


Not only are you able to apply for disability benefits when you already applied for and were approved for Social Security retirement, but it may actually be to your advantage to do so. The Social Security Act created a retirement and disability benefits system for retired or disabled workers and members of their family.

Can You Apply For Disability If Already On Social Security?

Social Security taxes paid by workers and their employers fund the Social Security retirement and disability benefits programs. When you reach full retirement age, which is based on the year that you were born, disability benefits that you receive from the Social Security Disability Insurance program automatically convert to retirement benefits. However, if you qualify for early retirement benefits at age 62 and have a medical condition that prevents you from working, there may be an advantage to applying for disability benefits rather than early retirement.

This article looks at the relationship between disability benefits and retirement benefits available through the Social Security Administration and explains how it can be an advantage to apply for SSDI benefits instead of taking early retirement before reaching full retirement age. Use this information to explore your specific situation with a disability advocate at London Disability.

Disability Benefits and Social Security Retirement

Most people claiming disability benefits through the SSDI program are not forced to choose between disability and retirement benefits. If you are diagnosed with a medically determinable physical or mental health impairment that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death and prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activities, then you should speak to a disability advocate for help applying for SSDI benefits.

However, monthly SSDI benefits are calculated as though you reached full retirement age. You do will not get additional benefits if you apply for SSD once you are eligible for full retirement benefits. In fact, the SSA automatically converts your SSDI benefits to retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age.

full retirement age

The age when you become eligible to collect Social Security retirement depends on your year of birth. For example, if you were born in 1955, your full retirement age is 66 years and two months. The full retirement age for anyone born in 1960 or later is 67 years old. You can, however, apply for early retirement benefits at age 62, but you do not receive the full benefit amount that you would get by waiting until full retirement age.

Advantage Of Disability Benefits Instead of Early Retirement

If you became disabled and began receiving SSDI before the age of eligibility for full retirement benefits, your monthly benefit payment automatically converts from SSDI to Social Security retirement. Early retirement at age 62 brings with it issues that you would not encounter by waiting until you qualify for full retirement benefits.

Advantage Of Disability Benefits Instead of Early Retirement

Early retirement comes with a reduction in benefits. If you were born in 1960 and elect to apply for early retirement at age 62, your monthly benefit is reduced by about 30% from what you would have received by waiting until age 67. The reduction is less depending upon how close you are to full retirement eligibility.

It is not uncommon for someone in good health to apply for early retirement to later be diagnosed with a disabling medical condition. If that happens, you can apply for SSD and receive disability benefits in place of retirement payments. The SSDI benefits will be effective as of the date that you applied for them, which could make the monthly benefit payment more than what you were getting in early retirement benefits.

A different situation is when a medical condition causes you to stop working, but you apply and are approved for early retirement rather than applying only for SSDI. If your medical records, including the diagnostic testing and physical examinations, prove that the disabling condition occurred prior to your application for early retirement, you may be eligible to receive up to 12 months in retroactive SSDI benefits to make up the difference between the early retirement benefits and what you would have received in disability benefits.

Concurrent Benefits

Although this article has focused on retirement benefits and disability payments, you also need to be aware of the availability of concurrent benefits. You can apply for disability if already on SSD and, if approved, receive benefits concurrently through the SSDI program and the Supplemental Security Income program.

SSI is a need-based program, so depending on the amount of the monthly benefits that you receive through SSDI, you may qualify for SSI at a reduced benefit amount because of the SSDI payments you receive. If you qualify for concurrent benefits, you may qualify for Medicaid because of your SSI eligibility. SSDI beneficiaries usually must wait for 24 months before becoming eligible for Medicare coverage.

Speak To a Disability Advocate For More Information

A disability advocate at London Disability can review your claim for benefits and help you to apply for disability. Contact us today for a free consultation and claim review.

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