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When disability benefits can make up for early retirement

Most Americans don’t have the option of retiring until at least the age of 65. However, sometimes a disabling injury or condition sends workers into retirement early, causing their income to take a major hit.

But people in this situation should know that disability benefits may be available to make up the difference between an early retirement amount and a full retirement amount. 

Technically, it’s not possible to collect both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time because disability benefits automatically turn into retirement benefits at retirement age. However, it may be possible when a disability occurs before an early retirement started.

In this case, Social Security may retroactively make up the difference between the early retirement payments that were made and the full disability amount (which is also the full retirement payment).

Then, when the person reaches full retirement age, the full retirement amount would kick in as if early retirement was never taken.

That means it’s not too late for a person to apply for disability benefits, even if they have already taken early retirement.

It’s also important for people to establish that are disabled -- instead of just taking early retirement -- because of what is known as a “disability freeze.”  A disability freeze means that a person’s income during the time that he or she is disabled is not counted on their earning record, thereby decreasing their retirement payment.

Deciding whether to apply for early retirement is a decision that should be made with the help of a Social Security disability lawyer. You see, if a person applies for retirement early and does not qualify for SSDI, he or she will remain collecting the early retirement amount for the rest of his or her life.

In other words, if you are going to take early retirement and count on SSDI to make up the difference, you must make sure that your disability application will be approved. Meet with one of our experienced attorneys for more information on this important issue.

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