Question: I will start collecting Social Security in February of 2011. I am having health problems that will probably result in my not being able to work (even part time) in the near future. Can I start collecting Social Security and then later change to Social Security Disability?
Answer: It depends on how old you are. You cannot collect social security disability after your full retirement age.
However, if you are talking about Early Retirement, then you should apply for disability because you will be eligible for full disability pay until your full retirement age (when you social security disability income becomes retirement income), and you will collect your full retirement income. If you take early retirement and do not file for disability, then you will forever collect a reduced retirement income.
Another benefit to applying for both Social Security disability benefits and early retirement: you can collect the reduced early retirement while applying for the disability income.