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Disability Law/S.S. Disability question

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QUESTION: Hello David,

I am 57 yrs old, and due to mounting health issues I was forced to leave my job last July and have applied for Social Security Disability.  I have hired a law firm for representation, and I am now at the hearing stage but have yet to get a court date.

My question refers to our Social Security monthly benefits.  It is my understanding that our contribution to SS during our working life relates directly to what we will be entitled to when we retire.  I understand that I am retiring early, but I still have SS benefits coming to me, whether now or later.  But why do they have the right to limit your benefits if you have another source of income?  Isn't our SS benefits not based on what we have paid, in my case for 41 years, during our lifetime?  And if this is the case, what right do they have to limit us just because we have other moneys coming in. This doesn't seem fair, and more than that, it seems illegal.   

The "other moneys" I am referring to in my case will be my retirement pension.  I am considering applying for my retirement at some point in the coming months, but if it will lessen my SS benefits I may decide not to pursue it until much later.

Any input you have is much appreciated.

Thank you,
Gary

ANSWER: Hello:

I am first going to make sure we are discussing the same thing.  If you are applying for social security disability, you are not retiring early.  There are different rules for early retirement from Social Security and for disability.  That being said, I think I understood what you meant.

As far a limiting you based on other money coming in, it depends on the facts of your case.  Generally Social Security Disability is not reduced by most of the money that comes in.  You can make money from investments for example, or some people have VA disability benefits in addition to Social Security Disability. In other words there are plenty of examples of sources of money that do not reduce your social security benefits.

Obviously, if you work and earn any money your benefits would be reduced.  You are not allowed to make much money if you are on Social Security Disability, and I would refrain from doing any work if you are headed to a hearing.

Retirement pension may have rules that I do not know about in your state.  I am in North Carolina, and I am not familiar with any retirement pension you would be getting.  I will say that in North Carolina there are people who are getting retirement through their employers and that it does not reduce their Social Security Disability.  A retirement benefit does not automatically reduce your Social Security.  However, it could be possible that the retirement benefit itself could be reduced by the Social Security Disability depending on the terms.  As I said, I am not familiar with this retirement benefit.

If I were you, I would call someone involved with the retirement benefit and see how obtaining Social Security Disability will affect the retirement benefit.  Because you are represented, I would then also ask your attorney how he/she feels that Disability will affect your retirement benefits.

Thanks,

David

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: David,

First I want to thank you very much for replying so quickly.  By the way, I am in the state of West Virginia.

Secondly, I will respond to some of your comments to make things more clear to you.

I do not have investment income or VA Benefits, so those are not an issue in my case.

When I said I am "retiring early", I meant from my employer...as I am only 57 and my retirement age is supposed to be 65.  I am going to apply for an early retirement, which will reduce my pension by a certain percentage with each year prior to age 65.  My employer's retirement pension fund is being handled by The Principal Insurance Co.  I will contact them regarding any possibility of reduced benefits. I will also contact my lawyer and ask their advice.   

As for Social Security, my health issues have amassed to the extent that I can no longer work, thus my application for SSD.  So being employed will not be an option as far as reducing any SS benefits in that regard.  

I greatly appreciate your help in clearing this up for me.

Have a nice day.

Answer
Thanks for the additional information.  Sorry if I gave some information that was not applicable to your situation.  I was just trying to give some examples.  I am sorry that you were unable to work until your full retirement age.  Not being able to work stinks.

I hope that your disability claim goes through without a hitch.  Be patient though, they often take a long time.  I am glad you are checking on your retirement benefits.  I would think they would not be affected.  I hope that is the case.

David

Disability Law

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David A. Jones

Expertise

Social Security Disability Long Term Disability Workers' Compensation

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I am attorney who has practiced for over 10 years in these areas

Organizations
North Carolina Advocates for Justice

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UNC Graduate Campbell Law Graduate Law Review

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