It is not unusual for applicants who are nearing retirement age to begin to wonder if they can take an early retirement if they are disabled and unable to work. Other applicants simply are ready to retire and need to know their options. This blog will address the options that a claimant who is age 58 to 65 might have whether they are disabled or not.
When can I file for SSA retirement benefits?
Claimants can file for early retirement at age 62, whether they are disabled and unable to work or not. The normal retirement age was 65 years of age for many years but this has changed. Now, the age has been increased for claimants who were born after 1938 until it reaches a maximum of 67 for claimants born after 1959. The reason given by the Federal Government for this modification was the increase in life-expectancy.
Early retirement and reduced benefits
Applicants who choose to retire early or prior to their normal retirement age will receive a reduced benefit. The amount of the reduction can be substantial. For instance, if you choose to retire as early as 62 years of age you could have your benefits reduced by as much as 30%. If you wait and delay your SSA retirement benefits you will receive your largest benefit payout the closer you get to age 70.
What if I am disabled? Can I retire before my early retirement date?
Many claimants as they get near early retirement age become disabled and are no longer able to work. A common question is, “Can I receive early retirement benefits before I am 62 if I am disabled and unable to work?” No, you cannot take early retirement if you are less than your early retirement age, but you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) disability benefits.
SSDI is actually available at any age, assuming you have sufficient work credits to be considered disabled, your condition does not allow you to work for at least 12 continuous months, and your condition is considered severe. But the older you are, the easier it will be to convince the SSA that you cannot retrain for new work, and this may make it easier for your to win SSDI.
Disabled and cannot work. What are my options?
So what should you consider if you are unable to work? The first consideration is your age. If you are 62 years of age you have two options: apply for early SSA retirement benefits at a reduced rate or apply for SSDI benefits.
If you are disabled you have several issues to consider.
1) What is your SSDI benefit payment?
2) What is your SSA early retirement payment?
3) How long can you wait for your benefits?
The first step is to contact the SSA and make sure you understand the process and your benefit payout for both SSDI and SSA early retirement. It can take months to be approved for SSDI and some applicants are never approved. If you have sufficient funds to fight the process, assuming your SSDI payout is higher than your reduced SSA retirement payout, it may be worth it to try to get SSDI. Why? Because if you are receiving SSDI you could get more money than you would get for a SSA early retirement and your SSDI payout will automatically convert to a SSA retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age.
Another consideration is medical care. If you get are not getting SSDI you will not get Medicare until you are age 65 years or older. If you get SSDI you will get Medicare 24 months from the date of your disability.
If you are not disabled and you have reached your early retirement age you can either continue to work or retire early. You will not be eligible for SSDI benefits.
Talk to a disability lawyer if you have questions about how to start your disability benefits.
- Winning SSDI benefits – How many times do I have to apply? (disabilitybenefitshome.com)