Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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Can You Collect Disability After Retirement AgeYour ability to collect disability after retirement age depends on the type of coverage you are collecting. Social Security Disability and privately purchased disability insurance are two separate things and are treated differently.

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It’s important to understand what exactly Social Security is and how it differs from disability insurance. Social Security actually involves a form of disability insurance.

The original Social Security Act of 1935 introduced a system where the federal government would provide income for individuals who were old of age or disabled, unemployed, or unable to perform in an ordinary work capacity because of hardship.

Every year, the U.S. pays out almost 500 billion dollars in Social Security benefits.

Social Security Limitations

If you experience health problems or physical ailments and can no longer work, then you may choose to retire early. Social Security disability benefits are the same (amount wise) as an unreduced retirement benefit. Therefore, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, if you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when under the age of 65 (or whenever you see fit to retire) then that income will be converted into retirement benefits.

There is no such thing as receiving Social Security retirement income and disability income—it’s the same source and for the same government provision. Likewise, if someone is retired and receiving Social Security benefits, he or she would not be eligible to receive additional Social Security disability benefits.

In order to qualify for Social Security, you must have actually worked the required amount of work credits. The impairment must affect you to the extent that you cannot be employed at the same level as before. The only exception to the rule might be in the case of special SSI (Social Security Income) which is only made available to those low-income individuals who do not qualify for traditional SSD.

You may have heard of cases in which both disability and retirement income were being asked for, but this is usually the result of an individual filing for disability while receiving retirement checks. Remember, if you have the work credits, that retirement income is yours and can be given to you before you reach the age of 65. Some individuals have no choice but to ask for some of their retirement income while they await a decision on permanent disability income. However, when that disability claim is approved, retirement income becomes disability income.

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The Option of Private Disability Insurance

What about a private disability insurance policy? Disability insurance is a form of insurance that you pay for through premiums. This policy will insure your earned income in the event of a disability. Depending on the insurance provider you work with, you may have every provision included in the contract, from sick leave to short-term disability to long-term disability. Premium rates for disability insurance are higher for policies that cover longer periods of time or that have broad terms of what disability means.

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Understand that many cheaper policies for disability income have a “cap”, as in five years of benefits paid. After that, you will have to rely on another source of income. More expensive policies will actually pay you until you can qualify for Social Security benefits due to becoming retirement age.

Bear in mind that some policies do require that you work part time or even full time, if your disability is too broad, and the insurance company suspects you can find a job somewhere in your field. You are usually required to work a set minimum of months out of the year. When you do this, benefits will be reduced but the policy will last longer. It depends on your insurance provider and the terms set in the contract.

Do You Need Disability Insurance and Can You Afford It?

Should you purchase disability insurance? It’s easy to dismiss the idea of disability insurance, especially if you have a fairly sedentary job. However, never underestimate the possibility of disease, accidental injury outside the workplace, a car accident, a slip and fall at work (or in another public building) or an assault. These are all very unexpected happenings.

The National Safety Council estimates that one person is disabled because of injury every single second of the day. Fatal injuries occur every four minutes a day. The U.S. Census Bureau states that over 51 million Americans, or 18% of the total population, are disabled. The Social Security Administration adds to these grim statistics, suggesting that only 3 out of 10 people will never reach retirement age without receiving disability benefits on a short-term or long-term basis.

These are sobering statistics and should emphasize the importance of having an individual disability insurance policy. You cannot wait for Social Security without having a backup plan. Social Security income can take months or even years to file successfully. Prepare yourself for the worst by purchasing a disability insurance policy. Try to work out a reasonable plan with an agent, one that is neither too cheap (meaning short-term benefits) or too expensive.

Compare disability insurance companies online. Look for companies that are reputable and have been in business for a long time. Verify in the contract what counts as a disability and what obligations you have to meet if you become disabled. It’s best to do this research and conduct an investigation well in advance, since you are usually not in the proper frame of mind to think about such details after a traumatic, disabling incident.

If you need help finding a disability insurance policy, then use a web chaser tool online. This chaser option allows you to compare insurance rates and get quotes in just a few minutes.

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