A portion of the payroll taxes you pay on income earned through employment or self-employment goes toward funding the retirement and disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. If you work for a long enough duration, you become insured and eligible to collect benefits when you reach retirement age or sooner if you are unable to work because of a disability.
If you are eligible to collect benefits through the Social Security Disability program, the monthly benefits you receive eventually convert to retirement benefits. This article gives you valuable information that may prevent you from making a mistake that could end up reducing your retirement benefits. After reading it, you should contact a disability advocate at London Disability with any questions you may have about applying for SSD and its relationship to Social Security retirement benefits.
Two Social Security disability programs
The Social Security Administration has two disability programs that it administers. Each of them pays monthly benefits should you become disabled and unable to work and earn a living.
The Supplemental Security Income program pays benefits to the elderly who are 65 years of age or older or to children and adults who are blind or disabled. SSI does not require a work history to qualify for benefits and is not funded by Social Security taxes. You may collect SSI and Social Security disability benefits at the same time, and it does not convert to regular Social Security at retirement.
SSD, on the other hand, requires that you have an earnings history from employment or self-employment and paid into Social Security through payroll or self-employment taxes to qualify for disability benefits. In essence, you must earn coverage under SSD by working for a long enough duration to qualify for benefits.
How to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits
To qualify for retirement benefits through Social Security, you must have at least 40 quarters of employment or self-employment and paid Social Security taxes. Unlike SSI, which is based on need, you must earn the right to retirement or SSD benefits.
The duration of work needed to qualify for SSD benefits depends on your age when you become disabled and unable to work. A worker who became disabled at a young age will need fewer quarters of work history than will a worker whose onset of disability occurred at an older age. For example, if you become disabled at 27 years of age, you would need to have worked for at least six quarters. In contrast, a worker whose disability occurred at 30 years of age would need at least eight quarters of work history.
The fact that you worked long enough to meet the duration test does not automatically mean your work history makes you eligible for benefits. Some of the work must have been recent enough to the onset of disability to satisfy a recent work test used by Social Security. In other words, if you stop working and wait to apply for SSD benefits, you may not qualify because part of your work history is not recent enough.
You must be disabled to qualify for SSD
Social Security only pays benefits to individuals who are totally disabled. You must be unable to do work that you did in the past and be unable to adjust to other types of work because of your medical condition. The disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or be expected to cause death.
When does Social Security Disability convert to retirement benefits?
If you are collecting Social Security Disability benefits, they will automatically convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits upon reaching the age when you qualify for full retirement benefits. Full retirement age depends upon the year in which you were born. For example, someone born in 1954 reached full retirement at 66 years of age, but anyone born after 1960 must wait until they are 67 years old.
You have the option to take early retirement and collect Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. However, your retirement benefit will be less than it would have been had you waited until reaching the age of full retirement. A better option than retiring early for someone who is disabled is to file for disability and collect it until your benefits from Social Security Disability convert to regular Social Security when you reach full retirement age. Doing it that way, instead of taking early retirement, does not cause a reduction in the amount of your benefits.
Consult an SSD disability advocate
The disability advocates at London Disability can be counted on for skilled guidance and representation when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Their unsurpassed knowledge of Social Security regulations and the application process avoids errors that can delay or affect the outcome of your claim for benefits.