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What Happens to My Social Security if I Go on Disability?

Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2022 at 7:13 pm    

Typically, you can’t receive Social Security disability payments if you collect Social Security retirement benefits. However, you might be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you meet the requirements.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) established the Social Security disability insurance program (SSDI) to bridge the gap between when employees can’t return to work due to a disability and when they qualify for retirement benefits. You can only recover retirement and SSDI benefits simultaneously under specific circumstances.

How to Collect Social Security and Disability Benefits Together 

SSDI provides coverage for your full retirement benefits until you’re eligible to receive payments through a traditional Social Security retirement plan. The SSA automatically sends payments for retirement benefits and stops SSDI coverage when you reach full retirement age (FRA).

Your FRA depends on the year you were born. Retirement benefits can start as early as 62. However, waiting until your FRA allows you to recover 100 percent of your available benefits. For many, the FRA is between 65 and 67.

What Happens When You File for Early Retirement? 

Although you can collect retirement benefits when you turn 62, early payments might not make sense, especially if you already receive SSDI benefits. Your disability payments are equal to the payments you will receive when you reach your FRA. However, if you choose to file early, benefits are reduced.

You don’t have to do anything to switch from SSDI to retirement benefits when you reach FRA. The SSA will automatically swap out the benefits you receive without a break in coverage.

How to Qualify for Retirement and SSDI Benefits at the Same Time 

One exception might allow you to qualify for benefits through Social Security retirement and SSDI. However, you can’t receive more than your full retirement benefit amount.

You can file for early retirement any time between 62 and your FRA. It might make sense to do this if you get hurt or sick and can’t maintain employment.

You’ll receive Social Security payments that can help cover the cost of medical bills and other expenses. SSDI benefits will start once the waiting period ends and your claim is approved.

At that point, you’ll start receiving disability payments along with your early Social Security retirement benefits up to your full retirement benefit amount. You might also qualify for retroactive benefits to collect full retirement payments for any months you were not approved for SSDI after suffering a disability.

Disadvantages of Collecting Retirement and SSDI Benefits 

The only issue with applying for early retirement is the risk that your SSDI claim is denied. If you’re not approved for disability, you’ll get stuck with lower Social Security payments than you would have received if you waited until reaching your FRA.

However, you can appeal a denied claim if you believe you are entitled to benefits. You must file your appeal within 60 days of receiving a notice from the SSA regarding its decision.

What Is Supplemental Security Income? 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another Social Security program assisting adults with disabilities. You qualify if you are at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled and have low income or limited resources, such as:

  • Life insurance policy
  • Stocks or bonds
  • Land
  • Cash
  • Bank accounts
  • Vehicles
  • Personal property

According to the SSA, a disability means a mental or physical impairment diagnosed by a healthcare professional that:

  • Is expected to result in death; or
  • Lasts or is expected to last for at least twelve months continuously; and
  • Causes an inability to perform a substantial gainful activity, meaning work for profit or pay, intended for profit, or of a nature generally conducted for profit or pay.

As of January 2023, the maximum federal amount for monthly SSI payments is:

  • $1,371 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse
  • $914 for an eligible individual
  • $458 for an essential person

You might qualify for SSI payments even if you already collect retirement or SSDI benefits.

Speak to an Experienced Disability Insurance Lawyer Today 

Navigating the Social Security process is complicated. You might not understand whether you qualify for disability and how to simultaneously collect benefits from different programs. 

At Abell and Capitan Law, we help sick and injured clients file claims and appeals for disability insurance benefits. We are ready to protect your rights and fight for the benefits you deserve. Call us at (267) 419-7888 for a free consultation if an injury or illness prevents you from working.

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Call, chat, or email us today to get started.