Why did I lose my disability payments when Social Security started?

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Q. I just turned 66 in October. In 2017, I became disabled and started receiving disability payments. But in October, I had my disability taken away from me. Can you tell me why I lost my disability because I am still disabled?
— Confused

A. Let’s go over the different kinds of benefits one may qualify for.

Those who are disabled may qualify for two different benefits which are overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA), said Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.

She said Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides payments to those who qualify medically, have amassed the necessary work history within a recent time frame and paid Social Security taxes on their earnings, Mott said.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can begin at age 62, said Altair Gobo, a certified financial planner with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

He said depending upon when you were born, the full retirement age may vary from 65 to 67 years old.

It appears that you reached full retirement age (FRA) in October of this year as 66 is the FRA for those born in 1954, Mott said.

“When an individual is receiving SSDI, their benefit `ends’ when reaching full retirement age, but their payment converts to a retirement benefit under regular Social Security,” Mott said. “If you were eligible to receive SSDI, it means that you had enough work history to qualify for Social Security and should contact the SSA to find out why the conversion did not take place.”

There are other circumstances that impact the payment of disability benefits, such as returning to work or an improvement in your medical condition.

Periodically, Social Security may review an individual’s case to ensure that they still meet the disability rules, Mott said. This process involves written notification and a review by an examiner.

“If the determination is made to end benefits, there is an appeal process that can take place within 60 days of that notice,” Mott said.

Gobo said it doesn’t make sense for most people to file for early retirement benefits at age 62 if you are already receiving SSDI because those benefits are based on your full retirement benefit. Those who choose early retirement receive a reduced benefit, he said.

“There is one exception that allows someone to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits concurrently, however it does not allow them to collect more than their full retirement benefits,” Gobo said. “In order to qualify for this concurrent benefit you would have had to opted for an early retirement benefit and then get approved for SSDI.”

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This story was originally published on Dec. 25, 2020.

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