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Question

I just turned 62 and applied to start collecting my checks early. My first one will arrive next month. I am still working, but now my doctor is talking about putting me on disability due to some medical issues. So if that happens and my checks have already started, will the amount go up to the amount you would receive when on disibility or will it stay the amount collected at 62?

 

Answer

You perhaps need to talk to SSA before beginning your early retirement benefit.

 

Being declared disabled by the SSA, you would get 100% of your retirement benefit as your SSDI amount. Filing early (at 62, or earlier than your Full Retirement Age) for your old age SS retirement benefit, you will get a reduced retirement benefit because you are filing for it early — and it will continue to stay reduced forever by the calculated "reduction factor"..

 

If you get disability benefits — which are your full benefit — at your full retirement age, the amount will not change but the classification of it will change from SSDI to SSOAI (from Social Security Disability Insurance to Social Security Old Age Insurance).

 

However, you cannot just file for disability and get it. It has to be approved by the SSA — sometimes a very long process depending upon your medical condition and diagnosis.

Now certain medical conditions or being terminally ill can make this disability qualification pretty much a certainty. Here are the medical conditions which the SSA approves pretty readily. If your disease is not listed, you can submit it for consideration.


SSA: Compassionate Allowance Conditions

 

The thing about disability is the approval might take a while depending upon your condition. If one of the above Compassionate Allowance Conditions isn't met or you are not terminally ill, you might not get approval at all. Also keep in mind, depending upon your condition, they may also make a ruling to see if you could work again at some job that does not tax your health — although for people over 60, that is not too much of a deal.

 

Once the disability claim is approved, there is a lag time of about 5 months from the last time you had income from employment to begin disability benefits.

 

I am pretty sure there is a way to file for both at the same time and get the early retirement benefit started — then if you are finally approved for disability, there are some cost adjustments done by the SSA. You would need to work closely with the SSA to handle all of this so as to not get caught up in government complexity — need I say more? The calculations would be based on your paying back the early retirement amount to be offset against the (whatever) disability award and how far back they go with it. It is this part for which you need to visit your local SSA office and talk to a knowledgeable person about it. If you consider this, you might want to hold off on the early retirement application.

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