I am frequently asked a similar question by folks in their 50s and early 60s. The question goes something like this, “I can’t work because I am disabled. Should I just wait and file for early retirement benefits or is it better for file for disability benefits now?” These folks have heard that the process for drawing early retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration is fast and painless. They have also heard that the process for drawing Social Security disability benefits can take years and require them to attend medical evaluations and hearings.
Unfortunately, I do not have a one size fits all answer to this question. However, I can provide some general thoughts that will apply to most.
First and foremost, if you have a disability that is severe enough to prevent you from working, you should apply for disability benefits. Now, I am assuming a person is insured for these benefits based on their earning record, or a spouse’s earning record, etc. If you do not know, I can generally determine your insured status with a couple quick questions and potentially identify a better record to file on than the one you were considering. If you are insured for this benefit, then it makes sense to file. Your benefit rate for disability benefits is typically your full retirement benefit rate. Therefore, generally speaking, that would mean that you would get 25% or so more per month than if you simply filed for early retirement benefits.
Now, if you are over age 62, you may wish to file for both early retirement and disability benefits. Most people do not realize that you can in fact file for both! This option works for some folks as it means they will have income coming in while they pursue their disability claim. However, deciding to take this course is a gamble. If you win your disability case, you get paid at the higher rate going forward and going back to the date that you were deemed disabled. If you lose your disability case, you are locked into early retirement unless you buy your way out of it. I wrote a blog on this specific issue. See my post entitled “Help! I Filed for Social Security Benefits Too Early!” for more specific options concerning this situation.
Before making any decision, I highly recommend that you meet with reputable firm to discuss your specific issues and needs before filing any claim for benefits. Time is valuable and you do not want to set off on the wrong course of action. While our office is located in Vacaville, Ca, we serve all of Solano County and are able to meet folks in Fairfield, Vallejo and surrounding areas. There is no fee unless we win your case and no obligation to hire with us if you just want to ask questions. We can be reached Monday through Friday from 9am to 5 pm at 707-580-9220 or visit our website at MillerDisabilityFirm.com.