How to Get Social Security Disability & a Retirement Pension

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If you can no longer work as a result of either a physical or mental disability, you need to find financial resources to support yourself and your family. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not automatically given. Your Social Security representative will work with doctors and employers to establish whether you are able to return to work. This process is lengthy, taking months, if not years, for a decision. Applying for pension benefits will not affect your ability to get Social Security Disability benefits, although it may affect the taxes owed on them.

Apply for Social Security Disability

  • Gather all required documents needed for the application. Gather your birth certificate, all doctors' contact information, dates of medical visits, medications you take and how often, and work and income history with your most recent W-2 forms or tax returns. Do keep in mind that if you think it might take some time to collect this information, start gathering it now -- the sooner you apply, the sooner you can get benefits.

  • Call the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213 to apply over the phone. Be prepared to be on the phone for about an hour, perhaps longer, for the initial intake. Applications are also accepted online at the website socialsecurity.

  • Provide all pertinent identifying information such as your name, address and Social Security number. Disability benefits eligibility is based on the number of years you have worked and paid Social Security taxes. A minimum of 1.5 years of work is required for those under the age of 28; requirements increase with age.

  • Complete all online forms or those you received from the SSA representative working on your intake interview. The SSA makes a disability decision on the basis of whether you are currently working, how severe your medical condition is, what impairments you have and whether you can do the type of work you had previously done in other jobs. Not everyone qualifies for SSDI.

Apply for Early Pension Benefits

  • Call your pension administrator at the number located on your annual pension statement.

  • Request paperwork for an early pension-benefits claim based on disability. Pension programs offer early income distributions if you are disabled without assessing a 10 percent penalty on the money that would otherwise apply to early withdrawals.

  • Complete the forms and submit them and all medical records required to establish your disability to your pension administrator.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have income other than SSDI, up to 50 percent of the SSDI payments might be taxable as ordinary income. Other income includes pensions, employment wages, interest and dividends. Certain tax-exempt income may apply, as well.
  • Those with one-half of SSDI and other income exceeding $34,000, or $44,000 if married and filing jointly, may have up to 85 percent of SSDI taxed.
  • Speak with a tax adviser about how your pension income might affect taxation on SSDI.

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