If you are under your full retirement age and disabled, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability, even if you elected to take early retirement benefits.
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
In order to receive disability benefits, you must meet the same requirements as any other person who applies. You must be found to be disabled on a date prior to the date you were last insured for disability benefits. If you have not worked in a long time or have not gotten medical treatment, this can make your case more difficult to prove.
Because you are older, certain rules, such as the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, also called the “grid rules” can make it easier for you to be approved.
Applying for Benefits
When you apply for benefits and are already receiving early retirement benefits, a Social Security Administration employee at your local office may not be familiar with the process. I have had many clients who tell me that they were not allowed to apply. If you are told you cannot apply because you are already getting benefits, ask to speak to a supervisor.
Amount of Disability Benefits
Your current retirement benefit is a smaller amount that you would have received if you had waited until your full retirement age to draw benefits. If you are approved for disability benefits, then you will start receiving the full amount, rather than the reduced amount.
When you receive early retirement benefits, you still do not receive Medicare until you reach age 65. If you are approved for disability benefits and meet the 29-month waiting requirement before age 65, you will begin receiving Medicare as soon as the waiting period ends.