Each year, millions of Americans elect to take “early retirement” benefits starting at age 62. When someone who is 62 (or close to it) becomes disabled, they often ask “should I just take the easier route and elect for early retirement benefits or apply for disability?” This is one of the most frequent questions we get and is one that everyone in this situation should consider. The answer is often “yes” to both. Early retirement benefits are typically less, as much as 30% less, than the “full” retirement (age 66+) or disability benefit. Often, if an individual is 62 or very close to it, it makes the most sense for this individual to apply for both disability benefits and to elect for early retirement assuming that individual does not plan to work any longer. As long as you can prove you became disabled before you elected for early retirement benefits, Social Security can award disability benefits retroactively and pay you the difference between the two benefits upon eligibility. In addition, if an applicant only elects for early retirement benefits, his or her Medicare benefits will not begin until the standard age of 65. However, if that same applicant applied for and got awarded disability benefits, he or she would become Medicare-eligible earlier – typically about two years following the date the applicant became entitled to benefits. If you are considering applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is very important to discuss your decision with an attorney experienced in these matters. If you wish to speak with one of our attorneys, please call our office at 704-633-5244 for a free consultation.
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