Can I draw early social security retirement and disability at the same time?

Can I draw early retirement benefits from Social Security and receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits at the same time?

Lately, a number of my clients have asked me whether they can receive early retirement benefits from Social Security and, at the same time, also receive Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits. Believe it or not, the answer is “yes” in many cases.  Suppose that Susan B. Anthony, who is currently 62 years old and lives in Troy, Ohio, worked for 30 years at the Spacely Sprockets factory in Wilmington. She has leukemia, and as a result of her condition, she had to stop working on June 1, 2010. At that time, she did not apply for SSDI benefits. Now that she has reached age 62, she would like to begin drawing early retirement benefits from Social Security. She also wants to apply for SSDI benefits.

Normally, were Susan to elect to draw early retirement benefits, the amount she would receive would be reduced by 25% compared to drawing benefits at full retirement age. For example, if Susan would have received a monthly retirement benefit of $1,000.00 had she retired at age 66 (the full retirement age for someone born in 1949), then her monthly early retirement benefit would be $750.00. If she were married, then her spouse’s benefit would be reduced by 30%. Furthermore, Susan’s monthly benefit would not increase once she reached full retirement age—the 25% reduction would be permanent.

In Susan’s case, however, she stopped working as the result of her disability. Because her disability forced her to stop working before she reached full retirement age (again, Susan is currently 62; her full retirement age would have been 66), Susan could effectively receive her full retirement benefit if her application for SSDI benefits is approved.

Assume that Susan began drawing her early retirement benefits shortly after her 62nd birthday, which was July 1, 2011. She then applied for SSDI benefits. On her application, she listed June 1, 2010, as the date on which her disability began. A decision on an application for SSDI benefits usually takes several months, and can sometimes take longer. Suppose, therefore, that the Social Security Administration approves Susan’s application for SSDI benefits on December 1, 2011, and that it determines that Susan’s disability began on June 1, 2010.

In this scenario, Susan would be paid her SSDI benefits retroactively from January, 2011, through July, 2011—when she started receiving her early retirement benefits. Then, for August, 2011, through December, 2011, Susan would be paid the difference between her early retirement benefit, which she already received, and her full retirement benefit. From December, 2011, onward, Susan would receive SSDI payments in the amount of her full, monthly retirement benefit. Effectively, because Susan’s early retirement was the product of her disability, the Social Security Administration treats her as if she had stopped working at her full retirement age.

Keep in mind that the foregoing example only applies when the Social Security Administration approves an application for SSDI benefits. For instance, had her application for SSDI benefits had been denied, Susan would have received only her reduced, early retirement benefit.

In addition, the amount of Susan’s monthly benefit would also have been different had the Social Security Administration determined that her disability began on a later date. Had the Social Security Administration determined that Susan’s disability began on September 1, 2011, then Susan would be treated as if she retired two months early (i.e. full retirement age less, less two months). In other words, if the date on which Susan’s disability officially began (as determined by the Social Security Administration) came before the date on which she stopped working, then she would be treated as if she had stopped working at her full retirement age. On the other hand, if the date on which her disability officially began came after the date on which she stopped working, then she would be treated as if she had retired early.

Drawing Social Security early retirement benefits and receiving SSDI benefits at the same time is possible. For some, this is the best option. For others, waiting until full retirement age to begin drawing benefits is the best option. If you have questions about early retirement and SSDI benefits please contact the Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation.

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7 Responses to Can I draw early social security retirement and disability at the same time?

  1. Wilynana6 says:

    Thank you for this article. I called the social security office in Toledo, Ohio and a lady by the name of Pat gave me some false information. I called them back after reading this and the man confirmed the information that you have posted here. You might have just saved me from losing years of benefits at the lower early retirement amount.

  2. Chris says:

    You have provided some excellent information on early social security benefits that people can receive, dependent on their condition. The way you write is so clear and concise, which is really great and useful for the layman reading through your website looking for information.

    With that said, a lot of what is in this article relates heavily to things I have seen in my own life. A few years ago, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer (among a few other diseases); and she was able to successfully acquire early social security from an early retirement and her disability. This was a great thing because she would have had very little to live on without the little extra money she was able to receive. Unfortunately, she ended up passing away not to long after this occurrence; so in many ways the money she was able to receive was used by the family to fund her funeral costs and so on. Having access to this money, especially when someone is managing a very debilitating and life-threatening illness is extremely important. Not only for the individual, but for the entire family.

  3. Mike Herrera says:

    I had to retire early because if s disability. I am not receiving full benefits and Iam currently 63 years old and would like to know if I would be able to receive full retirement benefits.

  4. DairyfarmGrandma says:

    This article is spot on. I drew my early disability while I was waiting on my social security disability to go through.

  5. Edward says:

    I will have 20 years of Federal Government service on 02.24.13 at age 58, and
    think I will retire then. I have been profoundly deaf since age of 3.
    Question: Can I apply for SSDI benefits upon retirement at age 58 and receive the benefit?
    And it looks like I can’t start receiving my early SS reitrement benefit until 62 if I want to start that early, is that correct?
    Is it correct that I can start receiving SSDI benefit from age 58 until I turn 62 if I want to start early SS retirement benefit? Or Can I receive both SSDI benefit at 58, then SS benefit at 62 at the same time? Approx. how much monthly would I be receiving those benefits?

  6. behrooz says:

    I have been on ssi and recieve $854.00 dollars per month and been getting it for the past 23 month. I turned 62 this month. My condition has become worse as I had a triple by pass open heart and now all 3 vains placed in my heart have colapsed and other illnesses have been added including extreem anxiety. What can I get and what to do?

  7. linda hall says:

    Thru my work I have a retirement plan and have not worked any since june 2012, In process of trying to get social sec. disabilty tru my long term disability insurance. Question can I draw my retirement from work without it affecting my ssdi in which it would probably be less than 600.00 a month

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