If you are disabled and nearing retirement age, you may wonder if your benefits will change. Social Security retirement benefits affect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You may not be able to continue collection disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) once you qualify for retirement.

In certain cases, you may supplement your retirement income with disability, but only to bring you up to your full benefit amount. This is the amount of your benefit assuming you took retirement upon reaching full retirement age. Depending on your date of birth, your full retirement age could be anywhere from age 65 to 67.

Otherwise, your disability benefits usually convert to retirement benefits. Like most things involving Social Security, this process can be murky. It is understandable to fear that you are not getting all the benefits you deserve.

A good disability lawyer can evaluate your benefits and make sure you are getting the most out of them. The accomplished legal team at the Disability Advantage Group, focuses on Social Security law. We can put our winning track record to work for you. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 865-566-0800.

What Is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

The first question that helps to determine how retirement will affect your disability benefits is whether you are collecting SSDI or SSI. These programs have important differences.

SSDI operates like an insurance program for which your payroll taxes serve as premiums. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have a sufficient work history, enough work credits, and have paid enough into the program.

SSI is a need-based disability program that does not have work requirements. Instead, it has caps on how much you can earn in income or hold in assets to remain eligible for benefits.

Occasionally, a person is eligible for and receives both SSDI and SSI. If this unique situation describes you, we can help you sort out how your benefits will change when you reach retirement age.

What If I Am Receiving SSDI and I Am Close to Retirement Age?

If you are receiving SSDI and are about to hit retirement age, your benefit amount will probably not change. It will simply shift to retirement benefits rather than disability income.

When you apply and receive approval for SSDI, you automatically receive your full benefit amount. In other words, you receive the same amount that you would get if, rather than becoming disabled, you had reached full retirement age and filed for retirement benefits instead of SSDI.

When you do reach full retirement age, the amount for which you are eligible is the same as what you have been receiving. Your award does not change.

What If I Took Early Retirement and Later Became Disabled?

The SSA allows you to file for retirement benefits as early as age 62, even though your full retirement age is between 65 and 67. There is a caveat, however: If you start receiving benefits early, your monthly benefit will be less. You will receive this lower amount for the rest of your life.

What happens if you accept a lower award so that you can start receiving benefits at age 62 and then you later become disabled? In this situation, you can apply to receive SSDI on top of your retirement benefits. If you receive approval, you will receive both retirement and disability benefits.  

However, your SSDI award will only be enough to bridge the gap between your reduced and full benefit amount. That is because—once again—you can never earn more than your full benefit amount.

What If I Am Receiving SSI and I Am Close to Retirement Age?

If you are receiving SSI, a unique situation applies. The SSA actually requires you to apply for other benefits as soon as you become eligible for them. That means you must apply for retirement at age 62 instead of waiting to reach full retirement age.

You can collect SSI benefits and retirement benefits at the same time. However, because SSI is a needs-based program—and your income determines your eligibility—you will probably see your award decline once you begin receiving retirement benefits. We can review your case in this scenario to ensure that you are still receiving the full benefits you deserve.

Call 865-566-0800 for a Free Consultation With the Accomplished Legal Team at the Disability Advantage Group.

If you have additional questions about your benefits, the team at the Disability Advantage Group, focuses on disability. We are happy to help you. To set up your free consultation, call us today at 865-566-0800. We look forward to working for you.