For many individuals approaching retirement age, the question of whether or not they can collect retirement benefits from Social Security while also collecting Social Security disability benefits arises. The below is an explanation of when collecting retirement benefits prevents you from collecting disability benefits as well.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of two programs under which you can apply for disability benefits. The other program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The main differences between SSDI and SSI can be found in the criteria used to establish technical eligibility for each program. Eligibility for SSDI is based on your work history and how much you paid into Social Security while working, and SSI eligibility takes into consideration one’s income, resources, and assets. In fact, as long as your income, resources, and assets do not exceed the maximum amount, you may be eligible for SSI even if you’ve never worked.
Please visit the SSA website for more detailed and specific information on SSI and SSDI eligibility.
If you begin collecting retirement benefits when you have reached full retirement age, you cannot also collect Social Security disability benefits. Since SSDI benefits are paid to individuals who are too young to collect retirement benefits and can no longer work- having essentially been forced to retire because of their conditions- to collect both SSDI and retirement benefits would be duplicative. Once an individual reaches retirement age, SSDI benefits become retirement benefits.
Please click here to determine full retirement age based on your year of birth. However, you may be able to collect disability benefits if you are receiving early retirement benefits.
Early Retirement Benefits
An individual is eligible to begin collecting early retirement at 62. However, if you do elect to collect early retirement then your monthly benefit will be less than what it would be if you began collecting retirement at full retirement age. This lower amount is to compensate for the longer period of time you will be receiving benefits.
You may apply for SSDI if you are collecting early retirement benefits. If SSA finds that you were disabled before you began collecting early retirement benefits then you will be able to collect Social Security Disability benefits. SSA will pay you the difference between what you would have collected if you were receiving retirement benefits at full retirement age and what you are presently receiving in early retirement benefits. Effectively, you will be collecting the same amount in benefits as you would if you were at full retirement age.
However, if SSA finds that you were not disabled before you began collecting early retirement benefits, then you will continue to receive only the reduced amount of early retirement benefits.