Whether you want to retire early to get your retirement benefits, or a health condition forces you to do so, you might be concerned with whether you can file for disability insurance benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). After all, it is always possible that your request for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits could get rejected depending on your current circumstances.
Let us look further at how your early retirement can impact eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits in Georgia and determine how a Social Security Disability lawyer can navigate the bureaucratic maze to get you the benefits you deserve.
Qualifying for SSDI Benefits as an Early Retiree
In most instances, individuals already receiving retirement benefits cannot get SSDI benefits simultaneously. Moreover, SSDI is typically available only to applicants who cannot work to support themselves but are too young to be eligible for early retirement.
However, if you are beyond the age of 62, SSA allows you to receive both retirement and SSDI benefits at the same time. Here are some of the conditions that you must meet.
Must Still Be “Insured” for the SSDI Program
To be eligible for either retirement or disability benefits, applicants should have accumulated a specific number of years working a job covered by Social Security. For example, applicants older than 60 should have worked at least 10 years.
However, SSA also has another SSDI requirement for early retirees—you should have worked for at least five years in the past decade. This condition would qualify you for SSDI benefits for five years after retiring. The “date last insured,” or DLI, is the last day of eligibility. For example, suppose you worked continuously from 2000 to 2018, accumulating more than enough work credits. Then, on June 23, 2018, you retired at 62. That would mean your DLI would be June 23, 2023.
Even if you became disabled after your early retirement, SSA might accept your disability claim if the DLI is still valid.
Inability to Perform Substantial Gainful Activities
One of the first factors that SSA considers when reviewing your SSDI claim is whether you are working. A common misconception is that SSA only approves claims when the disabled person is completely unable to work. Instead, the reviewer will assess what kind of work you can do or are still doing at the moment—even if you have officially retired.
SSA rejects SSDI claims if you can still perform substantial gainful activities (SGA). The agency considers certain jobs SGA if you can earn more than a specific amount of money monthly. As of 2022, this amount would be $1,350 for seeing individuals and $2,260 for blind applicants.
Health Condition Must Meet Social Security Standards
Finally, your disabling health issue must be severe enough to meet SSA’s criteria. For example, your disability should:
- Be permanent or have at least a one-year duration
- Likely result in death
- Limit your ability to do basic activities such as carrying objects, walking, or remembering things
Furthermore, SSA will also check its list of medical conditions to see whether yours appears. If not, it may have to review your case further to determine whether you qualify for SSDI benefits.
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Why Go for SSDI Instead of Only Early Retirement Benefits
If your medical condition meets SSA’s disability criteria, you should generally apply for SSDI rather than just early retirement benefits. Remember that early retirement benefits are subject to a permanent deduction based on your application date. The greater the amount that can be deducted, the closer you are to full retirement age. Even if you are 67 years old, your payments will remain the same.
On the other hand, the amount you can get through your SSDI benefits would be the same as receiving full retirement benefits. Moreover, once you reach SSA’s full retirement age, your SSDI benefits will automatically get converted into your retirement benefits.
Consult With a Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
The process of getting SSDI can become complicated, and everyone will have unique life circumstances that affect their eligibility. However, Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can explain in more detail whether early retirement affects your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. We have SSDI lawyers who can review your file and offer the advice you need. In addition, they can help you compile any supporting evidence for your claim and avoid pitfalls that could compromise your eligibility.
Our attorneys have worked with clients on disability claim disputes throughout Georgia for over a decade. With our combined experience and knowledge, we can help you resolve your matter. So, contact us today. Our support team is available 24/7 to answer your legal concerns and other inquiries.