Disability lawyers in Tallahassee come across many state workers and others whose health begins to wear on their ability to work as they approach retirement age.  These people sometimes come into our law firm, believing they cannot apply for Social Security Early Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits at the same time. This is not true.  Like anything in life, taking early retirement while applying for disability benefits has its risks and rewards.

When it comes to applying for social security disability benefits and early retirement, you should keep a few things in mind.  To begin, it is crucial to make sure you are at the right age. In order to qualify for early retirement, you must be at least 62 years of age. At this age, you will also be of a prime age to apply for Social Security benefits.  Because of Social Security Administration’s medical-vocational guidelines, after the age of 50, your chances of being granted benefits disability benefits increase depending upon your health, education and the skills acquired through your past work.  A social security lawyer familiar with these regulations will understand how your age will affect your social security disability application.

Now that you are of the right age, it is time to apply! However, there are some key factors to keep in mind. There may be a negative impact on your Social Security payments if you are inevitable found to be “not disabled”. An additional risk includes the possibility of reducing your retirement benefits permanently. If you opt to receive benefits at the age of 62 and if you were born between the years of 1943-1954, your payments will be reduced by 25%. That means that if at the age of 66, you were supposed to receive $1,000, you will now be receiving $750 instead. This value is permanent for the rest of your life, however; there is an exception for those who are deemed disabled.

If you are deemed disabled prior to the date that you reach full retirement age and are granted Social Security Disability benefits, your payments start retroactively prior to the date that you actually began to receive reduced retirement payments.  Your early retirement application is in essence, withdrawn. Depending on when your payments start, the Social Security Administration will pay the difference between the reduced retirement and full Social Security benefits for each month that you were already being paid. Hence, from then on you will receive your full payment for each month ever after.

If that was not enough to mull over, there are a few more considerations to keep in mind. In the event you do apply for early retirement and Social Security benefits, and you are denied disability benefits, you will be left on a reduced payment plan for Early Retirement for the rest of your life. There is no guarantee that you will be approved for SS Benefits and it is important to recognize that.  We offer free disability case evaluations from a social security disability lawyer to help you determine whether this is a good option for you.

A final point to keep in mind is the date that Social Security determines you to be disabled. If they deem you disabled earlier or later than expected, you may be left with only retirement benefits for some time before any Social Security disability benefits begin.

Either way, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each option. If you are still left with questions, you can always call our office for a free case evaluation and ask us to run scenarios with you to see which possibility is better for you.

The Law Office of Matt Liebenhaut is a Tallahassee social security disability law firm that also represents clients in matters of long-term disability insurance, and all family law matters including divorce, child custody, and child support.