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Will my benefits increase because I became disabled while collecting early Social Security Retirement benefits?

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Learn how, depending on your age, you can get a higher Social Security benefit if you become disabled while receiving Social Security Retirement benefits.

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Watch the Video: “Will my benefits increase because I became disabled while collecting early Social Security Retirement benefits?”

Disability during Early Retirement

If you become disabled while receiving Social Security early retirement benefits, whether or not you receive an increase in benefits depends on when you become disabled. Social Security does not pay disability benefits for the first five full calendar months of disability, so you would not get an increase during those months. You would receive an increase in the sixth month if the sixth month is before your Normal Retirement month.

Social Security Normal Retirement Age

For many decades full retirement age was sixty-five. In recent years, the Social Security Normal Retirement Age was increased. The increase is being phased in so that, depending on the year you were born, normal retirement age is sixty-six with future retirees born in later years having to reach sixty-six and a half or sixty-seven for full retirement. The gradual increase in age has been put in place because people are living longer and the Social Security Administration needs to reduce its financial obligation.

If you don’t know your Social Security Normal Retirement Age, you can find out by calling the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 or by looking it up on their website, www.socialsecurity.gov. If you become disabled more than twenty-nine months before your Normal Retirement Age, you will become eligible for Medicare before your full retirement age. Our article (I-11) “If I Am Approved for Social Security Disability, Will I Get Medicare and Medicaid Heath Insurance?” offers more information about entitlement to Medicare health insurance.

Tips for Counting Your Disability Benefit Waiting Period

Here are two tips for counting the unpaid disability waiting period. First, the month in which you become disabled does not count as one of the five unpaid months. The second tip is an exception to the first rule: If you become disabled on the first or second day of a calendar month, Social Security will count the month you became disabled as part of the unpaid waiting period.

Social Security Retirement after Disability

If you receive disability benefits after receiving reduced early Retirement benefits, when you reach your Social Security Normal Retirement Age, there will be another change in your benefit amount. At that time, the Social Security Administration will switch you back to Social Security Retirement and your ongoing benefit typically will be less than your disability benefit, but more than your earlier reduced retirement benefit.

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62 Comments

  1. Betsy Crowe says:

    I began drawing disability in 2009 at the age of 59. When I turn 66 will my disability become social security? And if so will my benefit from social security be less than my current disability benefit?
    Thank you.
    Betsy Crowe

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Betsy,

      If the disability benefit you are receiving is Social Security Disability, then your benefit will automatically become Social Security Retirement (SSR) benefits and will continue in the same amount.

      If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will need to apply for Social Security Retirement. You can do this up to three months before your sixty-sixth birthday. The amount you will receive will depend on your Social Security earnings record. Your SSI will either be reduced or terminated, depending upon the amount of your SSR. Your total income will not be less than you are currently getting from SSI at that time.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  2. danham says:

    My SSDI was offset by a workers comp settlement for a term of 25 years, but after a divorce, 2000 dot com crash, and then the 2008 crash the settlement is gone. Can my SSDI be updated to reflect the lack of any settlement? Would it be updated at for the income i had at the time I was disabled? Or will it be my lack of income today?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Danham,

      I believe that you will not be able to get an adjustment in your Social Security due to loss of assets derived from a workers comp award. The offset (reduction) in Social Security is based on the amount you received, not on the amount you have left at a later point in time related to adverse investments or other financial events. Of course, always check with the Social Security Administration to be sure of your rights.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  3. Joan Gibbs says:

    I began receiving early retirement at age 62 1/2 and became disabled last year at age 65, 8 months. Would I be able to receive any social security disability? Thank you.

  4. william alleñ says:

    I received ssdi and worker compensation,I am 63 , under Michigan law will there be a offset of my workers compensation at age 65 or 66 , and if so how much?I started workers compensation benefits at age 56.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear William,

      The worker’s compensation offset will end when your Social Security benefits are converted to Social Security Retirement benefits at your full retirement age, which is age sixty-six and six months if you were born in 1957.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  5. karl says:

    Kay: I lost my job in May 2010 and new I would not be able to get another because of disability. I was unaware of the Social Security disability requirements. I took early retirement in February 2012 (age 62) because I needed the income. A doctor informed me in late 2013 that I should qualify for disability. I applied and was approved in April 2014, but they established the disability onset date as 1/1/2013.

    Where does that leave my payment, and can I appeal the onset date to get full disability/Social Security?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Karl,

      The current decision will result in an increase in benefits from your current reduced retirement beginning June 2013. You will be paid the difference between the two benefits for the retroactive period and will receive just disability benefits until you reach your full retirement age.

      You do have the right to appeal the onset date. If you do, I would suggest that you request a copy of your claim file so that you can tailor your appeal to the reasons that the disability examiner stated for your not being disabled before January 2013 (insufficient records, records don’t support disability, etc.)

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  6. ROBERT ALLEN says:

    I will be 62 yrs old on June 1st 2014. I have been on Social Security Disability for 1 yr. When will I be eligible for Medicare benefits and also when will I turn from Disability to Medicare and will I get less money or keep my current Dollar amount ?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Robert,

      You will be eligible for Medicare after you have received twenty-four months of Social Security Disability benefits, including back pay months. Your benefits will change from disability to retirement benefits when you reach age sixty-six, your full retirement age. The benefit amount will remain the same.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      S

  7. ken fields says:

    i was born in 1958. i got hurt in 7/27/2012 and have been getting ssd since the end of 2013. when i go back to work and stop ssd and i retire at 70 and go to collect ss retirement will i get the amout i was supposed to get or am i stuck at the amout i get now?? i am looking at not receiving ssd for ten years before i file for retirement. If i am stuck getting what i am getting now then why do they kept talking SS from my paycheck??

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Ken,

      Your retirement at age seventy will be based on all your work earnings before and after your period of disability.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  8. Diane says:

    my husband took early retirement at 62 in 2010 could not find work but in January 2014 he had a heart attack and had to have a stent put in also on alot of meds can he apply for disability or is it to late for this he can not go back to construction to hard can not lift heavy things with this stent

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Diane,

      Your husband is at least sixty-five years old. His Social Security full retirement age is sixty-six. He would be able to receive disability benefits at a higher rate than his reduced retirement only from July 2014 (his sixth full calendar month of disability)through the month before his sixty-sixth birthday. If there are any such months, he could apply for benefits. Once he turns sixty-six, his benefits would revert to retirement benefits, which could be slightly higher than his previous retirement benefits because he would be no early retirement reduction for the months he received disability benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  9. Michael Furia says:

    I began collecting social security benefits when I was 62. I have since worked part time making less than $12,000 a year. I am now 67 and have multiple medical and mental issues which I believe will quality me for social security disability status. Is it possible for me to collect s.s. disability even though I am already receiving standard s.s. benefits?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Michael,

      No Social Security disability benefits are payable for individuals who have reached full retirement age, as you have.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  10. Rachel says:

    My husband is 63. He had a lumbar fusion in 1999 becuase of spinal stenosis. He has nerve damage and sciatic nerve pain, his left arm does not work much due to torn muscles. He has become unsteady and has fallen a few times. He was recently diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We think he would qualify for dissability but can’t afford to be without his income while going through the process. When we inquired last year about early retirement or possible dissability amounts, we were told that he could file for early retirement while the dissability claim was processed. Is this true or would it effect his chances on getting approved for the higher disability amount?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rachel,

      Yes, your husband could apply for reduced retirement benefits to tide him over financially during the first five months of disability for which no disability benefits are paid. Once he was switched to disability, the benefit would go up to an unreduced amount. When he reached full retirement age and was switched back to retirement benefits, he would have a small permanent reduction in retirement benefits because of the five months of early retirement he received before disability benefits began. (I suggest that he also check with his employer to see if they have a short-term or long-term disability policy under which he is covered.)

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  11. Mari says:

    My husband retired at age 60. At 62 he started receiving regular SS
    payments at a reduced amount. He has been under medical care for kidney failure for 5 plus years and now requires dialysis. Can he apply for SS disability benefits? DOB 1948.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mari,

      No disability benefits are available after a person reaches full Social Security retirement age, which for your husband would be age 66. If he became disabled more than five full calendar months before his 66th birthday, he can apply for disability benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  12. Louis says:

    Hi Kay,

    I am applying for Medicare. I am 65 now (birthday in March). On the medicare application, they ask if I “want to receive reduced benefits while waiting for the disability decision?”

    If I say “Yes”, what impact does this have on my retirement benefits?

    Thank You Kay.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Louis,

      If you choose to receive reduced Social Security Retirement benefits now, your benefit will be permanently reduced. However, if you are not working now or are earning less than $15,480 gross this year, it could be to your advantage to take the reduced benefit. I suggest that before you make the decision, you talk with a Social Security claims representative (not a service representative) and ask them to tell you the dollar amount and percentage of reduction you would have if you take reduced retirement before age sixty six and how many years would pass (i.e. how old you would be) before you started to lose money over all.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  13. Rita says:

    I am going to be 62 in June and I am going to apply for early SSR to help supplement our income. I am working fulltime at this time. I have a lot of medical issues and if I was to become disabled within the next 3 yrs would I qualify for Disability benefits and Medicare? Would my SS check increase and then go back down to what the decrease amount I am going to receive? DOB 1952..Thank you.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rita,

      If you are earning little enough to allow payment of reduced Social Security Retirement (SSR) benefits while you are working and then become disabled, you could receive Social Security Disability benefits for the months before you reach your full retirement age (age sixty-six). You would receive Medicare the earlier of age sixty-five or your twenty-fifth month of disability benefits. At full retirement age, your benefits would be adjusted downward for any months of reduced retirement benefits before your disability benefits began. This means that your retirement benefit would be less than your disability benefit but more than your retirement benefit at age sixty-two.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  14. Frank Zoellner says:

    I have been receiving ssd since I was 50, when I become of normal ss retirement age, will my benefit decrease or stay the same? Thank you very much, frank

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Frank,

      Your Social Security benefit will stay the same when you transfer from disability to retirement benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  15. Frank Zoellner says:

    I forgot to give you my date of birth-1955. Thanks, frank

  16. Donna S says:

    Kay,

    I began getting early retirement benefits earlier this year at age 62. I have a disability but was told I did not have enough credits for disability. I am 4 short. I am getting a very small check and I have 2 questions. First will my current benefit be adjusted based on earned income I will have before my full retirement age of 66. I will make well below the penalty income level. Second I should have enough credits for disability this year How will that effect my benefits if I can now qualify for disability? Thanks!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Donna,

      Retirement benefits are based on your thirty-five years of highest earnings. Your current retirement benefit will be increased only if your recent earnings are sufficiently more than earnings you had in one of the years used to calculate your benefit.

      If you become eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI), your benefit will increase to a level of unreduced retirement, which is the amount that you would have received at age sixty-six if you had not taken early retirement. Then at age sixty-six your benefit will change from disability to retirement again and will be reduced. The retirement benefit at that time will be higher than what you are getting now because you will have reduction only for the months you received reduced retirement benefits not for the disability months.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  17. Frank Zoellner says:

    Many thanks!

  18. beth says:

    my husband became disabled after having heart surgery in 2008 he is 59 years old he gets 1.400 a month in disability. when he reach retirement age of 65 will it be converted over to social security and will his income increase or remain the same?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Beth,

      Your husband’s Social Security Disability will be changed to Social Security Retirement when he reaches full retirement age, which for him is either age sixty-six or sixty-six and two months. The amount will stay the same.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  19. Barb says:

    My husband was let go from his job as an RN after 32 yrs due to increase in confusion and memory. He has since been diagnosed with dementia. He was 61 when released of duty, and retired early at 62. Can he apply for disability now or is he receiving the best benefit now?? What about Medicare?? He is no longer able to care for himself and I have had to cut my hours drastically to care for him. Thank you so much for any insight!! So appreciated!!!

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Barb,

      You should start an application for Social Security Disability (SSDI) for your husband before the end of the month, if possible, to avoid possible loss of retroactive benefits. You can do this by going online to http://www.ssa.gov and beginning a disability applicatio. That will protect June as the filing month. You can complete the application later. Alternatively you can call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 or go to a Social Security office before the end of the month and request an appointment to apply for him.

      Your husband is now receiving reduced early retirement benefits. If he is approved for SSDI, he will receive unreduced benefits. Additionally, after he has received twenty-four months of SSDI including retroactive months, he will be eligible for Medicare. If he has not already had cognitive testing to document his dementia, I recommend that you get in touch with his physician right away to arrange it.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

      • Barb says:

        Thank you so much! I should add, he is now 64, and will be turning 65 in May of 2015. He also receives benefits for myself and our child who is a young minor. Would he lose this benefit if he applies for disability? He should receive Medicare next year anyways correct?? Thanks again!!

        • Kay Derochie says:

          Dear Barb,

          The disability benefits could be retroactive for as much as twelve months from the month of application; but even so, your husband would receive Medicare based on age before he would receive it based on disability. The dependent benefits would continue in a higher amount than now. When he reaches full retirement age (sixty-six) benefits will be changed back to retirement benefits reduced again for the years he previously received reduced benefits, but they will be higher than if he had never had years of disability benefits. It will definitely pay to apply to see if he can be approved for disability.

          Sincerely,

          Kay

  20. I have been on FMLA from work since 4/1/14. I had bilateral SIJoint fusion surgery and also in 2008 lumbar surgery. The last surgery has left me in much pain sitting, standing, walking. Although PT will I.prove certain areas it is not expected that I will be able to sit painfree for more than 10 minutes indefinitely and will have limited mobility. I am currently on short term disability insurance which will last until 9/30/14. I was born in 1955. Should I apply for SSDI now, as returning to work is doubtful. What am I entitled to? Thanks.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mary Lynn,

      If you cannot work standing or walking and all the occupations you have done in the past have required extended sitting, then you may be eligible. The only way to find out is to apply for benefits. You can get an estimate of what your benefit would be by requesting an earnings record statement (not a benefit statement) from Social Security either online or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  21. Also…will I have to pay back any of the short or long term disability payments that I received prior to getting SS Disability. Thanks. M.Lynn

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mary Lynn,

      Most short-term and long-term disability policies reduce benefits when Social Security is paid for the same period. However, Social Security does not pay the the first five full calendar months of disability. You became disabled in April, so benefits would begin for October (paid in November) If you file now and your claim doesn’t pend long, you will not have much to repay.

      Sincerely,

      Kay
      Sincerely,

      Kay

  22. Barbara says:

    I began receiving disability social security in 2003 and now I am 67 years old and my SS has converted to regular SS. I recently found out that my ex husband died in Dec 2012 and was married to him for 15 years. I am not married now. I found out that I can file for 100 % of the amount of SS that he was receiving which is more than I receive now. Will I be eligible for retroactive pay and if so will it be for 6 months or 12 months since I did originally retire on disability and am still disabled. Just wondering if the change to regular SS after I turned 66 will affect the retroactive pay.

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Barbara,

      The maximum retroactivity for survivor benefits is usually six months from the date of application for the widow’s benefits. Only disability benefits have twelve months retroactivity.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  23. Rita says:

    Hi Husbund has been on ssdi for 12 yr now 66 on 7/30 received letter and it reads that check for July will be received in August and as of July it says he is no longer entitle to disabilty Ben so we don’t know if we will get a check in July or not ??

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Rita,

      Both Social Security Disability and Social Security Retirement are paid the month following the month for which they are being paid. Your husband should receive his last disability check in July for June and his first retirement check in August for July.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  24. Rita says:

    It says you will receive $ for July around August — any thoughts ?thx Rita

  25. Mike says:

    Kay…my partner been on disability for years and turns 66 this week. We got a letter stating changeover.. will he still get cola each year….also..i am 63 but cant retire till 66….will getting married be plus or negative…mike

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Mike,

      Social Security Retirement benefits receive cost-of-living increases on the same basis as disability benefits do. Unless one of you is a widower and eligible on a deceased spouse’s Social Security record, I cannot see a Social Security disadvantage in marrying.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  26. Linda says:

    I am receiving early sir benefits. If my ex of over ten years predeases me, can I convert my benefits to his greater amount? I am 65

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Linda,

      Yes, assuming your have not remarried, you can switch from your retirement benefit to a widow’s benefits when your former spouse dies.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  27. Diane says:

    My husband started receiving retirement Social Security at 65 while working. One year later he fractured his skull and has been disabled ever since. Does he qualify for any other disability benefits?

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Diane,

      Individuals who have reached full retirement age are not eligible for Social Security or SSI disability benefits.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  28. Dave says:

    I have been on SS disability since the summer of 2006. I am also on Medicare. I turn 65 next month in August. My employer is retiring me out as of my 65th birthday next month. Once I switch over to SS retirement, will my monthly payments stay the same as they was before? My employer is retiring me at age 65 instead of age 66. Thank you very much

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dave,

      Social Security will switch you to retirement benefits at your full retirement age. At that time, the amount will stay the same as your disability benefit.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

  29. Dave says:

    Hi there, I have a 2nd question. As I said in the last post I sent you I begin drawing regular Social Security after my 65th birthday in August. Now my wife, who also turns 65 in August, she had not worked in several years, can she apply for and draw her regular Social security at the same time I draw mine? THanx again

    • Kay Derochie says:

      Dear Dave,

      If your wife has enough credits for retirement, she can apply for benefits at age sixty-five. The benefit will be slightly reduced because she is taking it before her full retirement age of sixty-six.

      Sincerely,

      Kay

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