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Can you collect Social Security and disability?

Wondering whether you can collect Social Security and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time? The short answer is probably not. The long answer, however, is maybe. Social Security and SSDI serve similar purposes, but the requirements vary for each. Social Security is for those who’ve reached early or full retirement age, while disability insurance typically serves younger individuals who cannot work due to serious medical conditions. However, an exception may apply. We take a closer look in this guide.

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Social Security and Disability Eligibility

Also known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you can receive Social Security retirement benefits as long as you’re at least 62 years old and have at least 40 work credits. Work credits are earned when you pay Social Security taxes on income you earned from a job or from self-employment. You’ll be eligible to earn these benefits at the early retirement age or the full retirement age. The full retirement age varies depending on when you were born. For instance, the full retirement age is 66 if you were born from 1943 to 1954, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Full retirement age is 67 for anyone born after 1960, but you can opt for early retirement benefits at age 62.

For disability, the age requirements are quite different.  You only need to be at least 18 years of age to qualify, and SSA guidelines require you to prove that:

  • You can’t do the work that you’ve done before
  • You can’t adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s)
  • Your disability has lasted or will last for at least one year or result in death

For example, if you are working in 2020 and making more than $1,260 a month, you won’t be considered disabled.

The Exception to the Rule

You may be able to get both benefits if you opted for early retirement before you received disability benefits. These are also known an concurrent benefits. This exception would be applicable in a situation where an individual retired early due to serious medical conditions. If that individual can prove that they developed the disability prior to receiving early retirement income, they’ll be able to earn both benefits.

Bottom Line

In most cases, you won’t be able to receive concurrent Social Security and SSDI benefits. And if you haven’t yet reached early or full retirement age and you’re receiving SSDI, those benefits will be replaced with Social Security income once you reach age 62. But exceptions apply to those who take early retirement before being approved for SSDI benefits.

Tips for Getting Retirement Ready

  • Relying on Social Security alone may not be the best option when it comes to saving for retirement. As you approach early retirement age, it’s best to save as much as you can along the way. Our retirement calculator can help you determine how much money you need to retire comfortably.
  • Financial advisors can help you manage Social Security benefits, taxes and much more. If you’re having trouble finding the right fit, SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching calculator pairs you with up to three advisors in your area.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/BackyardProduction

Rickie Houston CEPF® Rickie Houston writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. His expertise includes retirement and banking. Rickie is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®). He graduated from Boston University where he received a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He’s contributed to work published in the Boston Globe and has worked alongside award-winning faculty for the New England Center of Investigative Reporting at Boston University. Rickie also enjoys playing the guitar, traveling abroad and discovering new music. He is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina.
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