Can I draw early retirement while waiting for Social Security disability benefits to be approved?

Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI) is the program that pays benefits out to eligible individuals under Title II of the Social Security Act. As the name implies, this includes retirement benefits, survivors benefits, and disability benefits.

The age at which someone chooses to derive retirement benefits has a direct impact on the amount that they receive. The earliest age to obtain retirement benefits is generally 62 years old and the amount increases with age. The earlier you draw, the less you receive.

Usually, the amount that an individual would receive from Social Security Disability benefits is higher than the amount that they would receive from early retirement. It is not uncommon for individuals who are over 62, yet under full retirement age, to stop working because of a disability. Drawing early retirement while waiting for a disability decision has no bearing on the disability decision.

Should a disability claim be approved, the Social Security Administration would evaluate how far back the disability payments should go and use that date to calculate how much the benefits would increase. The back-pay, if any, would be the difference between what the individual drew on early retirement and what they should have drawn on disability. The ongoing benefits would then be the higher of the two amounts.

If the claimant ultimately were denied, then the individual would simply continue to receive their early retirement benefits at the reduced rate.

In addition to receiving a higher monthly benefit amount, eligible beneficiaries may receive Medicare after being eligible for monthly Social Security Disability benefits for 24 months.

Representative Emily Olson