Social Security Matters – Will Applying For SS Disability Hurt SS Retirement Benefit?

By Rusty Gloor, National Social Security Advisor at the AMAC Foundation, the non-profit arm of the Association of Mature American Citizens

Dear Rusty: My husband turns 65 later this month. He has started having health issues – so much so that we are thinking about talking to his doctor about Social Security Disability. How would this affect him in applying for his Social Security benefits? Should we exhaust disability efforts before applying for his retirement benefits? Signed: Concerned Wife

Dear Concerned Wife: In order to qualify for SS Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, your husband’s disability must be considered total and must be expected to last for at least one year. And that will need to be substantiated by medical evidence from his doctor. So, having a discussion with his doctor is the right first step.

Since SSDI benefits are based upon your husband’s full retirement age (FRA) benefit amount, if he is awarded SS disability it would have no effect on his FRA benefit amount. In fact, if he is awarded SSDI benefits, they will automatically convert to his regular SS retirement benefit (at the same amount) when he reaches his FRA. SSDI benefits are replaced by SS retirement benefits once FRA is attained.

So, should your husband exhaust disability efforts before applying for his SS retirement benefit? Provided that his doctor will support that he is totally disabled and expected to remain so for at least a year, your husband should apply for SSDI online at www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability. This will establish a base date which will be used to establish a disability onset date, which is what his SSDI benefit will be based upon if later awarded. You should be aware that it takes several months to receive an initial SSDI determination, and that about 2/3rds of all SSDI applications are denied. But there is an appeals process in place which can be used in the event of an initial denial and if he believes that is an unfair decision.

It is also possible for your husband to claim his personal early SS retirement benefit at the same time he applies for SSDI, so he can get some early SS income flowing while his SSDI application is being considered. Then, if his SSDI is later awarded, his smaller SS retirement benefit (reduced for claiming before his FRA) will be replaced by his higher SSDI benefit, and his higher SSDI amount will automatically become his SS retirement amount when he reaches his FRA. However, if your husband’s SSDI is not awarded, his reduced SS retirement benefit will be his permanent benefit amount (except, of course, for annual Cost of Living Adjustments).

This article is intended for information purposes only and does not represent legal or financial guidance. It presents the opinions and interpretations of the AMAC Foundation’s staff, trained and accredited by the National Social Security Association (NSSA). NSSA and the AMAC Foundation and its staff are not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other governmental entity. To submit a question, visit our website amacfoundation.org/programs/social-security-advisory or email us at ssadvisor@amacfoundation.org.

49 COMMENTS

  1. Sigh.. so now people want to double-dip? These SOCIALISTs who ask the government to find their retirement or medical needs should move to Europe! Here in USA we pride self-sufficiency. If you want SOCIAList Security, go somewhere else!!!!! #americaForAmericans #stopSocialism

    • Social Security Disability for a 65 year old worker is an EARNED Benefit funded through payroll deduction from work history. Not sure how that doesn’t equate to self-sufficiency given that it is paid for by the person applying but maybe they didn’t cover that section at the “#americaForAmericans #stopSocialism rally.

    • We pay into social security all our working lives. It’s not an entitlement like welfare. This is OUR money. Go troll some other website with your half baked ideology. #StopIgnorance

    • Foolish Pride. There will always be a certain percentage of the population who are crippled and can no longer fend for themselves. What if one of those people were your mother or grandmother? Would you still have the same attitude with them?

    • Social Security and disability are paid for through a person’s payroll taxes!That’s a word the returns like to shy away from.It was created decades ago and not a socialist anything.People love to throw that word around without knowing the meaning because they hear it on Fox or OAN!!

      • Do not blame FOX or OAN.

        Ssa.gov has information about Social Security.
        The program has ALWAYS been intended to protect workers and their spouses in old age by providing a retirement benefit. Survivor benefits protect the spouse and minor children of a worker if that worker dies. Disability benefits protect the worker and their family if they become sick or injured and can no longer work. Along with this comes early access to MEDICARE.

        These deductions from payrolls are taxes paid into a trust fund. In a way, this is an insurance program, as well as a worker retirement program. Was it “socialist”? Yes, that was an accusation made when FDR pushed for the program. It is a SHARED or GOVT GUARANTEED program.

        Just to be clear, not every worker is eligible. The disability must be severe enough and have caused inability to work, AT ALL—not just the job they had before. The worker had to work long enough, based on their age, and recently enough, to be insured and be eligible for SSDI benefits. And another misconception is that it is for the rest of the person’s life. These benefits are medically reviewed every few years. Some people get better over time or they retrain for new careers suitable to their disability issues, and return to the workforce. The program helps people get back on their feet. It is a great help to many.

    • I am 60 years old and I am on SSI AND SSDI,the money I get is what I wroked for. Although how I wish I could go back to work I just cannot! It’s not a hand out by any means

      • SSI is a welfare program. Paid by taxpayers…and you have to be low income to qualify and own very little beyond the home you live in and a vehicle.

    • Mark S. I hope you get sick and find yourself in need of financial support! Then go to Europe! It’s not as cut and dry as you see it but you don’t see! Your blind with ignorance!

  2. I’m totally disgusted by these hypocritical Republicans that think that they have the right to sit in judgement of others. It’s wonderful to have pride in the fact that YOU are able to be self sufficient but unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to everyone. So, climb down off your throne because YOU aren’t any better than any one else. Get a life!

    • Yes,it took me three years also and you have to hire a disability lawyer! Be prepared,by the time I did get my disability I was beyond broke!

    • It took 3 months or so. I did it by myself. I listed all the doctors that I went to and had no problem. I went to one doctor that was appointed by Social Security. I was in my late 50s when I applied. I think most get turned down because their application is incomplete or not enough medical evidence.

      • It ALSO depends on the medical condition and it’s severity. Yes,medical documentation being clear is helpful. Someone with Stage 3/4 cancer or who has had a stroke that limits speech, walking and most major life activities, is likely to not improve enough to allow that person to return to work inside a year. NO BENEFITS ARE PAYABLE FOR THE FIRST 5 MONTHS of any disability claim.

  3. Mark S. Actually Americans paid into Social Security for many many years. The money was taken out of every paycheck, money that they worked hard for. The government said they would hold the money until the person needed when they were older and wanted to retire. That person is just asking for the money that they earned. They are asking the Government to keep its end of the deal, and give the money back, a little at a time. FRA benefits are NOT a handout. It is a loan to the government in which you get no interest. If we work we can not opt out of it.

    Mark – you must not have worked and seen your hard earned money being taken out every paycheck, or you would understand this.

    • It’s not a loan. It is a premium paid into a defined contribution program. Some people will never claim that money or receive it back. Their surviving spouse MIGHT qualify. Young children might qualify. Sometimes no benefits are ever paid back to the worker. It us not a bank account that you contribute to or that can be borrowed against like an IRA. It cannot be willed to another person, or assigned a beneficiary. SSA laws define who can claim benefits only.

  4. Besides, we PAY for SSDI & SSI by way of taxes taken out of our checks Every payday. SSDI & SSI are NOT free handouts. We all PAID in to these programs all our lives as insurance for when our health starts to fail us. That is WHY they are called “Entitlements”!? If you are going to b*tch about something? Know what you are b*tching about!

    • SSI contributions/taxes do not exist and are not taken out of payroll. Supplementary Security Income is public funded assistance or “welfare” payments funded by all taxpayers. Social Security and MEDICARE taxes are payroll deductions.

      Learn more at their website. http://Www.ssa.gov

  5. Mark seems to forget the question came from a guy who paid into SS for 50 years and is entitled to every nickel. I know many folks who made six figures all their lives and medical issues have left them sadly needing this system they paid for.

  6. Dumb a** you pay for your social security they take it out of pay checks. Also some people can’t work if there to sick. I may need a lung transplant some day

  7. Look back at the Fed Res and the depression and get the letter on your social find which routing comes from the letter and go to fedwire and find out your money is being controlled from your ancestors and they make you pay 2 times even 3 they double dip and rob Americans and the Res is a private Corp. Were worth more than we kill ourselves to be……………… Communists in the making…

    • The amount you receive is based upon your lifetime earnings. For example I became disabled in my mid-40s, but I had paid a lot in at that point because I had worked since I was 13. If I couldve worked another 20 years, then my monthly payment would be larger. My mother, who gets SSI due to her age, gets about 1/2 of what I do. And let me tell ya, it still isnt enough to live on, but it is better than nothing. I expected to work my entire life, but….

      Some younger people also, if disabled before the age of 22, can draw off of their parents SS, and deceased workers can be paid for the care of their surviving children until that child reaches the age of 18

      Regardless, someone has had to have paid somewhere into SS to be able to get their “benefits” paid back to them.

  8. “Sigh” You might try learning some facts about something before you spew your ignorance publicly. We pay for our Social Security everytime we are “self sufficient” it’s found in a little box on your pay stub called FICA. If you’re self-sufficient and have a job you should know that! The only reason there is a problem with it is because politicians went against the rules and promises laid out when it was enacted. The money was supposed to be untouchable for ANY reason other than what it was intended for, namely retirement for the people who paid it! Since then it’s been dipped into to cover whatever shortage or pet project needed covering and SURPRISE now those self-sufficient citizens that dutifully had that money taken from their pay for 20, 30 or 40 years that you call Socialists will be screwed.

    • Well, fortunately I PAID the money with every single paycheck I got, so YOUR hard earned money isnt going to me. I got me, you do you.

  9. You think your taxes pay the costs of the roads you drive? You really believe that YOUR taxes covers the costs or FIRE , NATURAL DISASTER SYSTEMS AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE.

    You are living Socialism. If you had it your way you’d vote to opt out of taxes when your youngest graduates HS.

    Get a clue! We have government so that even the elderly and infirmed, poor and dispossessed can live with some dignity.

  10. So, you will be sending your SS checks back to the Social Security Administration? I also assume you won’t be picking up Medicare and your self sufficiently is going to pay all your medical bills out of pocket…right? Because that’s what you pride yourself on. I’m so glad you can afford that and hope you don’t develope a condition that’s expensive to treat as you age. Most people fund their own SS or didn’t you notice money missing from your paychecks all these years… Boy…I really hope you have lots of money dude. If you do, you probably think that buys you the right to chastise others…and the patriotic American you think you are? YOU ARE NOT!

    • I dont have any problems with ss other than biden wanting to give ss to people who never worked to earn it lime illegal immigrants if immigrants want to work and pay tuere fair share im all for it but when they never worked and paid into ss that im not for

      • Again SS is an EARNED benefit. But one must be a PERM RESIDENT or US CITIZEN to even be eligible. Illegal/undocumented persons must BECOME LEGAL/DOCUMENTED to get benefits. There are people paying in that may never collect.

  11. I don’t understand, how you think it’s double dipping, if you get disability befor retirement, then in goes to regular SS, when you reach full retirement age.

  12. Speaking of double dippers : my uncle retired from the air force, he also retired from civil service (civilian military worker). And then he gets a social security check (tripple dipper).
    Not to be realistic , he made very little money when he was in the air force, however he played his cards very well. Now he has a job ,trying to spend all these 3 checks every month.

  13. They are not double dipping, it’s one or the other. And they are not trying to double dip. I’m on disability after being diagnosed with leukemia and degenerative disc disease plus a couple of other back issues not needing to go into.4 years ago. I worked untill I dropped at work and was hospitalized. I’m 61 I was approved and got SSDI within the 3rd month of applying retroactive. From the day I entered the hospital. I worked and paid my dues since 16 and i dont feel im getting anything but what is mine. And reading that article and questions from the couple i dont think they are wanting any thing more than what is theirs either. So Mark you need a fact checker in your life. It seems you were quick to get pissed off for no valid reason.

  14. The idea of ssi/said as entitlement is spewed by an ignoramus who doesn’t know/understand that program is paid for by part of our payroll tax. I would leap at the opportunity to have all of that part of my tax returned along with the dollar cost earned interest of apprx 6% which is the 200+ year moving average and of course compounded for 42 yrs I’ve paid in. I would never ask the US Gov’t for another dime and most likely wouldn’t have to as a matter of condition.

  15. @Mark S
    Some people should know what they are speaking about before they comment in grown folks conversations.
    #Geteducatedthanspeak

  16. I’ve been working since I was 16, at 43 I’m having to file for SSDI because of severe GI issues that Cleveland clinic is trying to figure out. I have a feeding tube, and cannot function daily. I have 3 kids at home, and would give just about anything to have any type of normal life. I’ve paid into this system that I didn’t think I would have to rely on for 20+ more years. I can’t pay my bills, I’m in an ocean of debt, and I refuse to allow my children to be homeless. How is this “my fault” no one asks to be sick, and I sure haven’t had the “time” to save about a million dollars to pay for all the medical treatments that have been required. I weighed 80 pound six months ago and they wanted to call in hospice. But your right, I probably should have just said f**k it, and died, and left my kids without a mom, so I wasn’t a drain on society… because apparently my life isn’t “worth it”.

  17. Your Dr is able to override the age frame if his condition is worsening. I’ve known a couple not in the age get approved, but they wouldn’t allow both of them to get it. Maybe things will change.

  18. This is what SS disability is FOR! For people like you, who worked, but became so sick or seriously injured, that they COULD NOT WORK!!

    If someone is sick and cannot work, and it looks like they may nit be able to work anytime soon… FILE!!!

  19. The DOCTOR has no control over SS laws or rules for disability. Each worker’s eligibility is determined by their work earnings record, insured status, and disabling condition. It has nothing to do with whether the spouse is also disabled. It sounds like you are confused about SSI vs Social Security Disability. Two different disability programs, different funding sources, different rules.

    But, both require a long term disability determination to be eligible for either program.

  20. You never get what you pay younger people are getting double what I get a month and some wonder why elderly people cant make it without help

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