Workers in valuable but highly physical industries, such as construction and manufacturing, are subject to an increased risk of sustaining a workplace injury or illness. As someone from such an industry who spent your life working hard for your family and retirement who suddenly finds yourself laid low by an injury, you may worry about your financial future.
If your injury is long-term or permanent and prevents you from returning to your job or finding a different one, you have two primary options. You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or you can enter into early retirement.
What is SSDI?
When you worked (given you worked long enough and recently enough), you accumulated credits. Based on your credits and if your disability falls under the SSD definition of qualifying disability, you may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits.
When are SSDI benefits preferable to early retirement?
Neither is “better” than the other. The two serve different purposes. However, when you retire, you qualify to receive normal Social Security benefits. Depending on your age, you may receive reduced Social Security. If you take SSDI benefits until you can retire, you may receive the full amount of Social Security you qualify for once you reach retirement age. SSDI benefits do not negatively affect your retirement and may help you financially until you are at the age where you can receive the full amount. If you are past the age of retirement, you do not receive SSDI, you simply receive Social Security.
SSDI exists to aid you if you sustain injuries that remove you from the workforce before retirement age. Depending on how old you are, it may be more financially beneficial to apply for SSDI benefits. When you become old enough to retire, your SSDI benefits automatically switch to normal Social Security.