Do You Need To File For Social Security Before Disability?

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Social Security benefits to help individuals cover the cost of basic needs. Sometimes, people need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits because health conditions limit their ability to earn a paycheck.

In other instances, individuals may apply for Social Security retirement to collect monthly checks after they stop working. There are even cases where individuals may qualify for both Social Security retirement and Social Security Disability benefits.

Perhaps you’re considering applying to both programs. You might wonder whether you need to file for Social Security retirement before filing for disability.

The following overview should answer your questions on this topic. For more information, strongly consider reviewing your case with a legal professional.

What Are Social Security Benefits?

Social Security benefits come in multiple forms. They are:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is available to individuals who can’t work because of disabling conditions. To qualify for SSDI, you must have paid into the Social Security system and earned sufficient “work credits”. You can earn a maximum of four work credits for every year that you work.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a needs-based program. Similar to SSDI, you may receive SSI payments if a disabling condition prevents you from working and earning an income. However, unlike SSDI, you don’t need to earn work credits to qualify for SSI. Instead, you must show that you qualify because you have a disabling condition and have limited means to cover the cost of your own basic needs.
  • Retirement benefits: Retirement benefits work similarly to SSDI. If you’ve paid into the Social Security system, once you reach a certain age, you can receive a monthly check upon reducing your working hours or permanently retiring from work.

You may not immediately know what forms of Social Security benefits you qualify for. A disability attorney can help you better understand your options.

When Do I Apply For Each Benefit?

The earliest you can begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits is 62. You typically can’t file for Social Security retirement benefits before this age.

You can file for SSI or SSDI at any age if you meet the eligibility requirements. However, if you’re relatively young, you may not qualify for SSDI if you haven’t earned enough work credits yet.

Be aware that you may not have to file for Social Security retirement benefits at all if you’re already receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Once you reach retirement age, your disability benefits will automatically become retirement benefits. That said, you may want to confirm with the SSA that this automatic switch has occurred.

Contact a Disability Attorney

Navigating the process of applying for any form of Social Security benefits can be an overwhelming experience. In addition, it’s important to understand that the SSA often denies initial applications for disability benefits. You might have to appeal the SSA’s decision to receive the benefits for which you’re eligible.

These are just a few reasons to hire an attorney when applying for SSI or SSDI. A lawyer’s experience can boost your chances of receiving an approval. Get started today by taking the Free Case Evaluation to speak with an independent disability lawyer who subscribes to the website and may be able to help with your case.