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What do I do about Social Security retirement benefits if I am getting SSD payments?

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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It can be easy to confuse the Social Security and Social Security Disability programs. They have similar names and are both administered by the Social Security Administration. But as our wise Charlotte readers know, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are for workers who have become severely disabled due to an illness, congenital condition or injury. Social Security is a retirement benefits program available to individuals after they reach a certain age.

For disabled people receiving SSD of a certain age, Social Security eligibility may be only a few years away. As the eligibility date approaches, you need to know that the SSA does not allow you to collect both Social Security and SSD benefits at the same time. The agency will only pay you whichever benefit will pay you more.

SSD or Social Security?

For most people receiving SSD, that means not claiming Social Security — at least not right away. You can claim Social Security benefits as early as age 62. But depending on the year you were born, you won’t be eligible for full benefits for years. People born in 1960 or later don’t get full benefits until age 67. If you were born in 1960 and claim Social Security in 2022, your benefit would be reduced by 30 percent. Depending on your work history, your SSD benefits could be significantly higher than what you would get from Social Security — unless your average monthly income was consistently very high during your career.

One exception to preferring SSD over Social Security is if you receive workers’ compensation in addition to disability benefits. That could shrink your SSD benefits significantly and make opting for early Social Security benefits instead.

Getting all your options together

These considerations can have a big impact on your financial comfort in your 60s and beyond. But when you need to get approved for SSD in the first place, working with an attorney who practices in that area can help you get approved for benefits more quickly and easily.