You cannot get double benefits by combining Social Security retirement and disability benefits.
There is a specific situation in which a person may receive both types of benefits at the same time, addressed below, but only to bring them up to their full benefit amount, not double benefits.
This can be a confusing subject, so we have tried to outline each situation in simple terms below. Some questions from readers have also been answered, but we have closed comments for now as our time to answer questions is limited. Please understand that we are not able to accept calls to the office with general questions.
If you are already receiving Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, you are already receiving your full benefit amount. When you reach full retirement age, the disability benefits will be converted into retirement benefits, in the same amount. This happens automatically, when you reach your full retirement age. You do not have to do anything to continue receiving your benefits. Nothing happens at age 62, because early retirement benefits do not apply, since you are already receiving your full benefit. (Note that this applies to SSDI, not SSI. For SSI, see below.)
If you took advantage of early, reduced retirement benefits, which can be done at age 62, and then are approved for disability benefits, this can result in you receiving both retirement and disability benefits for the same time period, to bring you up to your full benefit amount. However, it does not result in double benefits, just a combination of benefits to bring you up to your full benefit amount. The exact amount and timing of your benefit increase depends on whether your entitlement to disability benefits is found to have started before or after you started taking early retirement benefits. Note that because of the five-month waiting period for SSDI, entitlement begins in the sixth full month after the onset of the disability.
If the disability entitlement started before you took early retirement: If the disability entitlement is found to have started before you began receiving early retirement benefits, then the end result for your benefit amount will be the same as if you had never taken early retirement benefits. You will get the difference to make up your full benefit, retroactively and going forward. At full retirement age, you will continue to receive your full benefit.
If the disability entitlement started after you took early retirement: If the disability entitlement is found to have started after you began receiving early retirement benefits, then during the period between when the disability entitlement began and full retirement age, you will receive your full disability benefit amount. Upon reaching full retirement age, the retirement benefit amount will still be reduced based on the number of months you received early retirement benefits.
If your disability began after you reached full retirement age, then becoming disabled does not make you eligible for any additional benefits from Social Security.
Since Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are based on financial need, one of the requirements of the program is that you apply for other benefits that you may be eligible for. That includes early Social Security retirement benefits. So, if you are on SSI disability benefits, Social Security may require you to apply for your early retirement benefits at age 62. However, your SSI benefits will be lowered accordingly, since SSI will only bring you up to the full SSI monthly amount ($735 per month in 2017).
Please Note: We are not able to accept calls with general questions from outside the Tampa Bay area. Any answers below are for informational purposes only; they do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. Some questions from readers have also been answered, but we have closed comments for now as our time to answer questions is limited.
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The information on this website does not constitute legal advice. Use of this website, including the contact form or comments form, does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In Florida and Colorado, Brendan Conley practices Social Security disability law exclusively. Attorney charges no fee unless your case is successful; clients may be responsible for their own costs, such as medical costs. Copyright Brendan Conley 2013-2019.