Many people become confused about collecting retirement benefits and Social Security disability benefits from the SSA. While it is correct that the SSA administers both benefits, qualifying for the benefits are two different processes. An individual cannot elect to take early retirement, for example, and then decide to apply for disability benefits instead. Disability benefits are specifically designed for individuals who can no longer work because they are disabled. And, as you may know, electing early retirement benefits at the age of 62 reduces the amount of your retirement benefit. If you are thinking of taking early retirement benefits because of a disability and being unable to work, it is better to apply for disability benefits. Why? Because the monthly amount of disability benefits is the same amount of money that you would receive if you retired at your full retirement age. Therefore, if you are awarded disability benefits, you will receive a higher monthly benefit amount and your eventual retirement amount will be the higher too, as it will be the same amount as your disability benefit. Taking early retirement if you are disabled and can no longer work, instead of filing for disability benefits, can mean that over your life-time you will lose a lot of money that you may be entitled to based upon your hard work.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.