Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are generally available to people of a certain age who have retired, or to people with a qualifying disability that lasts for a period of longer than twelve months and restricts their ability to work. In either case, the recipient of the benefits also needs to have worked in a job that was covered by Social Security. Because of the age at which most people reach retirement, it is possible that some people develop conditions or suffer injuries after they retire that meet the disability criteria for SSDI benefits. People falling into this category may wonder if it is possible to receive SSDI benefits for both retirement and a disability at the same time for an increased benefit amount.
Generally, people who retire at full retirement age are not eligible for additional benefits for a disability that develops after they have retired and begin collecting SSDI benefits. For people who have been receiving disability benefits before retirement, the benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits upon reaching full retirement, and there is no increase in the benefit amount. There is also no decrease in benefits because a person was receiving disability benefits before getting retirement benefits.
For people who take early retirement starting from age 62, there is a possibility that their benefits may increase based on a disability determination. A person taking early retirement is usually only able to collect a reduced retirement benefit that is less than that he would have received at full retirement. If a person applies for disability and then takes early retirement, whether or not they receive reduced benefits depends on when the disability is determined to have started.
If the disability is determined to have started after the person took early retirement, he cannot receive a higher amount based on the disability. However, if the disability is determined to have predated the early retirement, he may be able to retain the full benefits that he would have received at full retirement, instead of a reduced rate. In addition, the person can receive retroactive benefits equal to the difference between the full benefit amount and the reduced amount the person was receiving in early retirement. If the Social Security Administration determines that the disability was present before the person took early retirement, the person may qualify for a disability freeze. A disability freeze would disregard years of no income or low income on a person’s work record that was caused by the disability. This would help the person receive a higher amount in benefits as SSDI benefit amounts are based on earnings.
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If you are disabled and considering how applying for SSDI benefits will affect your retirement benefits, or need assistance with applying for benefits, you can seek advice from a disability benefits attorney. SSDI applications can get complicated and having an experienced social security disability benefits attorney guide you through all stages of it can avoid delays. Contact the experienced social security disability attorneys of the Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC for a consultation today.