Retirement Benefits and Disability Benefits

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What exactly are disability benefits? Disability benefits are paid to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. There are two earnings tests before qualifying: a recent work test, based on the your age at the time you became disabled, and a duration of work test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security rules and regulations.

If approved:

  1. Amount is based on your average lifetime earnings.
  2. If denied, can appeal.
  3. After two years of receiving benefits you will automatically qualify for Medicare coverage, regardless of age.
  4. At Full Retirement Age, your disability benefit will automatically convert to Social Security or Retirement benefits.

Roy and I do not assist people in applying for Disability Benefits, but if they do come to us when they are drawing we can assist with their rollover to Social Security benefits. Most software programs do not handle Disability issues, but we subscribe to a group of consultants that assist us in these matters. We do not handle Medicare, Disability, or sell financial products…..we only assist with Social Security. This was an intentional decision on our part – Social Security is too complicated to try and consult in more than this area.

If you are drawing Disability benefits certain members of your family may qualify for benefits based on your work record: your spouse if over age 62, natural children, adopted children, in some cases grandchildren and stepchildren, an adult child who was permanently disabled before age 22, or your spouse who is caring for your child younger than age 16. Be careful here…..many exceptions to the rules!

In some cases a divorced spouse may qualify, if they were married for ten years, is at least 62 years of age and currently single. The money paid to a divorced spouse does not reduce or affect the other benefit or any benefits due to your current spouse or children. All these qualifications are subject to the extensive rules and regulations of the SSA.

Persons collecting Disability payments can at Full Retirement Age, suspend their benefits, and allow them to increase with Delayed Retirement Credits until a later age (up to age 70). But, because he/she was on Disability they cannot collect any benefits during the suspension.

If someone dies prior to his/her Disability benefit converting to Social Security benefits, the surviving spouse is still entitled to Survivor Benefits. At what age they should take this benefit, depends on many variables and should be reviewed.

With the passage of the Bi-Partisan Budget Act of 2015, new rules and regulations were set in place. Make sure that you have researched all possible scenarios before filing……remember, basically a permanent decision.

Roy and Diane Thompson are both National Social Security Advisors and Roy is a former CPA of 40 years. Their guidance and direction will make a difference for you and your family. You may contact Pillars LLC on our website at or email at or simply give us a call at 601-954-0699. We are located in Corinth, MS but assist clients throughout the United States.