Life is a series of choices, and if you are in your early-to-mid-60s and no longer able to work, one of the most important choices you may be soon forced to make is whether to seek disability benefits or start collecting your Social Security retirement benefits. This is a question the Seelig Law team helps Manhattan residents wrestle with on an almost daily basis.
Is it really a choice?
As you have probably been warned, tapping into your Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age (FRA), which is currently 66, means you will collect less money per month for the rest of your life than if you wait to collect Social Security retirement benefits until you are FRA. But this warning means little if you are no longer able to work.
If you are too ill or injured to keep working, you don’t really have a choice between waiting until you reach FRA and “retiring” now. You have been forced into “retirement” by your life circumstances, and you need your benefits to reflect that fact.
Below we will go through some of the things to think about if you are not getting any benefits, currently getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or have already taken early retirement.
If You Have Yet To Get Any Benefits
If you have not yet taken early retirement benefits, and you are not currently receiving SSDI, it may be wise to file for both Social Security retirement benefits and SSDI at the same time, no matter your age.
It can take a long time for the Social Security Administration to process an application for SSDI. If you need financial support now, taking lower retirement benefits instead of waiting until you reach FRA may be your best option.
SSDI benefits are generally more generous than early retirement benefits. If you qualify for SSDI, you can take those benefits until you reach FRA, at which time your SSDI benefits will convert to full retirement benefits.
The risk of applying for both SSDI and early retirement before you reach FRA is that you may not qualify for SSDI, and will then be stuck getting lower Social Security retirement payments for the rest of your life. That being said, if you are no longer able to work, waiting to file for retirement benefits may not be a real option for you.
Already Getting SSDI
If you’re already getting SSDI, it is probably best to stick with that until you reach FRA instead of taking early retirement. Once you reach FRA, your SSDI will automatically convert into a full retirement benefit.
Already Taken Early Retirement
If you chose to file for early retirement because you wanted to, or because you were no longer able to work, you may later file for SSDI. If you discover or develop a disability, you can apply to convert your early retirement benefits into SSDI benefits until you reach FRA. If your claim for SSDI is approved, you may be able to get additional benefits, backdated to when you applied for disability.
Your New York City Disability Benefits Attorney
If you have questions about SSDI, and how it interacts with Social Security retirement benefits, the Seelig Law Group is here to help. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.