Differences Between Social Security Disability Benefits and Social Security Retirement Benefits

Social security disability benefits are administered through the Social Security Administration, as are social security retirement benefits.  There are several differences between social security retirement benefits and disability benefits, however.  The following is a list of the key differences between these two types of benefits:

  • In order to receive SSDI and SSI benefits, a person must meet the definition of “disabled,” which is a medical condition that prevents the individual from working for at least 12 months.  On the other hand, in order to receive social security retirement benefits, an individual merely needs to have worked  in “covered employment” for a sufficient number of years and be at least 62 years old.
  • Although retirement benefits are available at age 62, the amount of benefits received will be permanently reduced if you begin claiming retirement benefits before the full retirement age of 65-67.  On the other hand, retirement benefits permanently increase if an individual waits until age 70 to begin claiming retirement benefits.  SSDI and SSI are generally not affected by the age of the claimant.
  • If you are receiving disability benefits at the time you reach full retirement age, the disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.  During the time that you are receiving SSDI and are unable to work, your social security earnings record will be “frozen,” which means that the years in which you collect SSDI are not included in the calculation of future benefits and your retirement benefits may be higher than if earnings were averaged over the entire period of time.
  • Like social security retirement benefits, the amount of income received from SSDI are based on income earned during working career, but null income is based on financial need.
  • The application process to receive social security retirement benefits is generally easier than the claim for social security disability benefits.  Accordingly, the help of an experienced social security disability attorney like those at the Chicago social security law firm of Ankin Law Offices, LLC can go a long way in helping you to successfully pursue your claim for SSDI or SSI benefits.