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Should I retire early or apply for Social Security disability?

If you are having health problems that have made working impossible and you are nearing the age of 62, you may think deciding to retire early may be the best option.

However, you need to look at the overall picture and determine whether early retirement or applying for Social Security disability would be the best option in your given situation. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has very specific guideline regarding retirement benefits and disability benefits.

Early Retirement Benefits

You can apply for early retirement and start receiving monthly benefits as early as age 62. You can wait to apply for benefits as late as age 70. Your monthly benefit amount will be reduced if you start receiving them before you reach what is called “full retirement age”.

Your full retirement age is based on when you were born. As an example, if you were born before 1937 you can start receiving benefits early at age 62, but you will only receive 80% of the monthly benefit because you will be receiving benefits for an additional 36 months because your full retirement age is 65.

Social Security Disability Benefits

If you choose to apply for disability benefits and you qualify for Social Security disability, you will receive 100% of your monthly benefit. That 100% rate will continue when it switches over to Social Security when you reach your full retirement age. So, if you can successfully prove your disability case, you will receive more money each month continuously.

Disability claims can be time consuming and challenging, but if you have the proper documentation to support your claim, you should be able to prove your case and be awarded benefits.

Your Social Security Disability Claim

The key to a successful disability claim is providing the proper documentation to support your claim and show that your medical condition makes it impossible to work. You should be approved for disability benefits for your medical condition if you prove your diagnosis, the severity of your condition, all your limitations and restrictions, any treatment you have undergone and how you responded to that treatment, and how your daily activities have changed since your diagnosis or since your condition progressed.

You should include all your doctor’s records, surgical notes, test results, doctor notes, any documentation or journaling you have maintained in regards to your condition.

The Social Security Disability Application Process

You can start the Social Security disability application process online. If you prefer, you can visit your local SSA office and start the application in person by meeting with an employee face-to-face. Because of the complexity of a disability claim, an advocate or an attorney can be very beneficial in helping you win your case. You should speak with an attorney before you officially start the application.

Most claims are denied at first, and many go all the way to an administrative law judge for a ruling. However, those who have enlisted the assistance of an advocate or attorney are much more likely to have their disability claim for benefits approved.