In a perfect world, applying for disability benefits would be easy. A person would simply have to produce evidence of a disability in order to receive benefits. This would happen quickly and with little confusion as to how much a person will receive over time or at what time it is best to collect their benefits.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. And as anyone who has ever applied for disability benefits will tell you, the system is anything but easy to navigate without help. That's why we wanted to address in this week's blog post at least one complication an applicant may run into, especially if they are disabled and nearing retirement age.
As was pointed out by the author of a recent Forbes article this month, disabled workers have a slight advantage over non-disabled when it comes to their retirement benefits. As some of our readers may know, if a person decides to take their retirement benefits before the full retirement age of 66, their benefits are permanently reduced. This isn't the case for disabled workers though.
If a disabled worker is receiving disability benefits and decides to take their retirement benefits early, their disability benefits will offset the reduced retirement benefits. When they reach full retirement age, their disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits to make the full amount.
Things like spousal benefits have been known to complicate this seemingly straightforward collection of benefits though, which is something we hope our readers will keep in mind with their own applications. And it's because of this and other complexities that may lead someone to seek the help of a skilled attorney who knows the system a lot better than they do.
Source: Forbes, "Social Security Q&A: What Social Security Disability Insurance Options Are Open to People with Disabilities?" Laurence Kotlikoff, Aug. 17, 2014