Disability Retirement Income: How To Collect

If you become permanently disabled you will need to know how to collect disability retirement income. If you have been in the workforce for some time you are probably eligible for Social Security Disability payments. You can apply for Social Security Disability income online if you have been or expect to be disabled for twelve months or more.


  1. To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits you need to have accumulated the minimum amount of credits to collect. In 2010, earnings of $1,120 are required for one credit; earnings of $4,480 would be needed for the annual maximum of four credits.
  2. The amount of credits needed depends on your age. A worker age 42 years old needs a minimum of twenty credits, the amount of credits required increases every two years past age 42. The requirements are less for younger workers and they vary by age group. The Social Security Administration has tables defining the age groups and credits needed.
  3. Your children may be eligible for benefits if you are disabled. Unmarried, dependent biological, adopted and step children eighteen years of age and under usually qualify for benefits. Dependent grandchildren may also qualify for benefits.
  4. Your spouse may also qualify depending on her age and work history.
  5. The Social Security Administration decides if you are disabled and their decision is based on the fact that you cannot do the work you did before and are unable to adjust to other jobs.

What You Need to Apply & Estimating Your Benefit

  1. The Social Security Administration annually mails every worker over 25 a yearly statement. The statement includes estimates on your retirement at normal age, disability retirement benefits and survivors benefit.
  2. The Social Security Administration website provides online disability benefit calculators.
  3. Your medical records are critical. You need to have the records from the hospitals, clinics and doctors that treated you. In addition, have all of your patient identification numbers and medications you may be on.
  4. You will also need the Social Security numbers of your dependents and veterans should have their DD 214 discharge papers.
  5. Your previous five year work history is needed along with your W-2 forms or your IRS 1040 forms. If you filed for workers' compensation or any other disability insurance that documentation is also required.
  6. All of the requirements are detailed on the Social Security Administration website. The Social Security Administration can be reached on the internet at their website or by calling their toll free number (800) 772-1213.

Additional Possible Resources for Disability Retirement Income

  1. Disability Insurance Policy Many people have a private Disability Insurance Policy. The policy should clearly define the benefit. If you become disabled and have private disability insurance, you need to contact the insurer immediately.
  2. Corporate Sponsored Retirement Plans If you participate in a corporate sponsored retirement plan you may be eligible for a disability retirement pension. Most disability pensions are contingent on your age and the amount of time you have vested at the company. You should receive an annual benefit statement. To check on your eligibility for a disability pension, contact your corporate benefit administrator.
  3. Union members If you are a union member and your union administers a pension plan, you need to contact the union benefit coordinator. Additionally, if your union does not provide pensions, they may provide some disability income until you reach full Social Security retirement age.


It is important to understand what disability income is available to you and how to apply and collect payments before you become disabled. Each source should provide you with an estimate of what you are entitled to in the event of a disability. Hopefully, you will never have to collect disability payments, but your sources and amount of estimated disability payment should be part of your financial plan.

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