The Social Security Administration provides retirement benefits as well as disability benefits for all qualified workers age 18 and above. If you're unable to work due to an injury or illness, and Social Security approves your application for disability benefits, the monthly benefit is calculated in the same way as Social Security retirement. The agency doesn't typically pay disability and retirement simultaneously, though there is an exception under one condition.
The SSA applies the same formula to calculate retirement and disability. The monthly benefit depends on your lifetime earnings record. Once you start drawing retirement benefits, they continue every month until your death. Disability benefits continue until Social Security determines you are no longer disabled, you voluntarily discontinue them, or you reach retirement age.
Social Security rules don't usually allow beneficiaries to draw disability and retirement at the same time, even if, technically, they qualify for both programs. Once you reach full retirement age, the disability case discontinues, and Social Security begins paying benefits under the retirement program. There is one exception, however, for those who qualify for disability after taking early retirement.
Requesting Social Security benefits early means starting them at age 62, or any age between 62 and your full retirement age. Social Security reduces the monthly benefit up to 25 percent for early retirement. The benefit remains pretty much the same, with annual cost-of-living adjustments, until your death.
If you qualify for Social Security disability after beginning early retirement, Social Security will pay an additional, partial disability benefit. The combined amounts of retirement and disability equal a full retirement benefit. When you finally reach full retirement age, the disability case closes. Your reduced retirement benefit rises to a full monthly benefit, as if you had waited until full retirement age to start the benefits.