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Retirement Benefits

When you reach retirement age, Social Security Disability benefits end and you transition to Social Security retirement benefits. You do not need to do anything as your benefits are automatically converted to Social Security retirement. Therefore, except for a small exception, you cannot collect both Social Security Disability benefits and Social Security retirement benefits.

While collecting Social Security disability benefits, Social Security earnings records are frozen during your period of disability. This means that the years in which you collect Social Security Disability benefits are not counted when computing future benefits. This freeze in earnings records results in your Social Security retirement benefits likely being higher than if your earnings were averaged over a greater number of years.

Early Retirement Exception

This situation applies to people who have applied for early retirement and began collecting Social Security retirement benefits (at a lesser amount than he or she could have received had he or she waited until retirement age) and then were subsequently approved for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will make up the difference between the early retirement amount and the full disability amount for the months that the individual was disabled but receiving early retirement benefits and not disability benefits.

In addition, when the individual reaches full retirement age, he or she will get the full retirement benefit as if he or she never applied or received early retirement benefits. Lastly, the individual would have the benefit of the disability freeze, which means that your lack of income due to disability is not counted when calculating your Social Security retirement payment from your earnings record.

The early retirement exception does NOT apply if you were collecting early Social Security retirement benefits before the Social Security Administration says you became disabled. In this situation, you would continue to receive your early retirement payment and your benefit would continue at the less than full retirement rate for the rest of your life. Contact the experienced Santa Ana social security disability benefit attorneys at Howard Law today to learn how you may qualify for benefits.