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Are retirement benefits better than disability benefits?

As many New York residents know, Social Security disability benefits help keep many people financially afloat. In fact, many people rely on this income for their entire lives. But what happens when you start getting close to retirement age? Which is better: retirement benefits or disability benefits?

First, it's important to know that when you hit full retirement age, which is either 66 or 67 depending on how old you are, the Social Security Administration will automatically switch your disability benefits to retirement benefits. Because of this, you don't have to make a choice between retirement benefits and disability benefits -- not unless you're looking into collecting retirement benefits early.

Many people may wonder if collecting early retirement benefits will be a better financial move than continuing to collect disability benefits. To be straightforward, it is not. When a person collects disability benefits, those benefits are based on full retirement age. But if you collect Social Security retirement benefits early, a percentage of your full benefits will be taken away. That percentage is based on the number of months before full retirement age you begin collecting benefits.

As you can hopefully see, it's often best to stick with disability benefits until you hit retirement age. When that happens, though, make sure to check with the SSA to make sure you're still listed as disabled. This will allow you to continue using Medicare. To make sure everything involving your disability benefits is in order, it may be helpful to speak with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.

Source: newsobserver.comm, "Social Security disability benefits versus retirement benefits," Holly Nicholson, Aug. 26, 2012

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