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Do Social Security Disability Benefits Switch to Retirement Benefits When You Turn 65?

Many people wonder what happens to their Social Security Disability benefits when they reach retirement age. Do they stop receiving disability benefits? Do disability benefits continue? Are they converted to Social Security Retirement benefits? It can be confusing to understand how the process works and individuals who receive SSDI benefits want to ensure that they are not left without an income once they reach retirement age. If you are wondering what happens to your SSDI benefits once you reach age 65, the following information will help.

The Benefits Do Convert

The first thing you need to understand when receiving SSDI benefits is that the benefits do convert from Social Security Disability benefits to Social Security Retirement benefits once you reach retirement age. Nothing will change. You will continue to receive a monthly check and you do not need to do anything in order to receive your benefits. The SSA will simply change your disability benefit to a retirement benefit once you have reached full retirement age. When you reach that age, however, can vary depending on which year you were born in.

It’s Not Automatically 65

Many people think that their SSDI benefits will automatically change to retirement benefits when they reach age 65. Some of these people are correct, but only those who were born before 1937. Anyone born after 1937 does not reach full retirement age at exactly 65 years of age so their SSDI benefits will not change to retirement benefits as soon as they turn 65 years old. When will these benefits convert? It depends on the year you were born. The following outline will help you understand at what age your SSDI benefits will convert to retirement benefits:

  • 1938 – 65 years and 2 months
  • 1939 – 65 years and 4 months
  • 1940 – 65 years and 6 months
  • 1941 – 65 years and 8 months
  • 1942 – 65 years and 10 months
  • 1943 through 1954 – 66 years
  • 1955 – 66 years and 2 months
  • 1956 – 66 years and 4 months
  • 1957 – 66 years and 6 months
  • 1958 – 66 years and 8 months
  • 1959 – 66 years and 10 months
  • 1960 and later – 67 years

By reviewing the age breakdown above, you can see at what age your Social Security Disability benefits will convert to Social Security Retirement benefits. Once you begin receiving Social Security Retirement benefits, you will receive your benefits without any limit on your earnings. This means that you will begin receiving your monthly benefits regardless of your income, unlike when these benefits were simply SSDI benefits. When your SSDI benefits convert to retirement benefits, the SSDI rules no longer apply to the benefits as the benefits now fall under the retirement guidelines.

Comments

Once the SSDI converts at retirement age will the benefit amount remain the same? I ask this because If a person has been on disability for years than what would normally be a livable amount might be much lower if they have not been working and contributing to regular social security.

Will my benefits change from disability to social security benefits since I no longer worked and paid into SS. My age is 65 and my B-D is 8-26-49

Hi Patricia, thank you for your question. Since you were born in 1949, your disability benefits won't turn into retirement benefits until you are 66 years old.

December 2014 I was approved for disability and in January 2015 I turned 66 and was converted to retirement benefits. In reading questions and answers it appears my retirement benefits should be the same as my disability benefits. My retirement check is $59 less. What should I do?

Are you on SSD or SSDI, (SSD from your earnings, SSDI low income disability) !i If you are on SSD, your benefits change to regular SS at 65, no matter when you were born. That's what Social Security told me.

You are making an error. Disability is known as SSDI. Federal low-income, welfare-like benefits are called SSI. They are not based upon a person's work history, only on their need (i.e., being near poverty level). So there are only three things: SSDI, which you labeled incorrectly; SSI; and regular SS Retirement.

Hi John,
This is correct. All the terms can get quite confusing, but SSDI is work-based, SSI is need-based, and then there's retirement benefits, which can start at age 62.

Hi Charile,
You can be disabled at any income. People who qualify for SSI are disabled and have no income. People who are on SSDI are also disabled, but worked throughout their lives. People who are disabled, didn't work, and who have income from a spouse or family will not qualify.

Hi Annie,
There are various reasons as to why you could receive a second check this month. You should contact your local SSA office to find out more about your specific case.

Hi Elaine,
I am not really sure of the answer to this question. I believe it may be possible, but I haven't heard of someone doing it before. The SSA will not count your years under disability as years worked, so you should contact the SSA to learn a little bit more about this. You can call them at 1-800-772-1213.

Hi Elaine, I was told by my long term disability agent that the SSA does count your years that you received social security disability as years worked whereas your regular disability is not counted as years worked. It was explained to me as: if you receive disability for say 2 years, this is not counted by SSA as years worked, but if you receive social security disability for 2 years, these years will be counted as years worked. I suppose it would be best to contact SSA as advised by Deanna. I know I will be calling them to see.

Hi Clarence,
I am sorry to hear that. Do you have a diagnosis of your condition? With any heart condition, you'll need to have a fair amount of medical evidence showing that you will be unable to work for at least a year. This includes, but is not limited to, EKGs, ECHOs, cardiac MRIs, stress tests, cardiac catheterizations, and more. If you have medical evidence proving that you will be unable to return to work for at least a year, I would recommend applying for disability benefits.

I'd like to comment on Allsup. They are the best. I had very good records for my disability, but sometimes that isn't even good enough. Allsup was able to get my disability benefits on the first try.

Sorry, Maggie, that statement is not true. I applied for my disability since I was no longer able to work as of May 2008 due to arthritis, fibromyalgia and pain caused from those issues. I received my approval letter in March 2009, with back pay to November 2008. You must submit documentation proving your disability. Be sure and keep copies of everything you submit, because you will answer the same questions on several forms during the process. You must meet criteria for disability per the Social Security Disability guidelines which are published on the website or you will be denied. I reviewed my medical records and the forms my physician had filled out prior to submitting them to the disability office for accuracy. It is important the diagnosis are in proper order. My physician was very helpful, since she was familiar with my health issues and knew that I could no longer work. I had no difficulty filing for myself without the use of an attorney.

Hi D,
I am happy to hear you had no difficulty with the application process! Some people are unable to fill out the paperwork on their own, so they prefer to contact an attorney.

I share an almost identical situation with D. Miller. Same timelines (dates) too. I filed online, crossed every "T" and dotted every "i". I answered every question to the best of my ability and left NO question un-answered. Had 2 phone interviews and was told I practically "aced" the application. I never talked to a lawyer, never lied (it was tempting) and never had to go see anyone. I had a 6 month waiting period, with no back pay, but it was worth it. When the first payment came exactly when they said it would, well, I hate to be crude but the relief was better than sex (sorry). I am/was a blue collar laborer, I am not college educated. All I did was follow the instructions exactly as written. The people I know who were denied though that partial answers were "good enough". They weren't, and these people were too lazy to do it right and would rather whine about how the gov't wasn't taking care of them. You don't need a lawyer unless you are illiterate. IMHO.

Hi Steve,
Glad to hear you had such success! Some people definitely do not have the skills you have to go through the paperwork so meticulously. An attorney is a great option for some, and is not needed for others. It just depends on your situation.

Will my social security retirement Income be less than my SSDI since I have not been contributing to my Social security accont

Hello Samuel, I have the same concern. I have been on SSDI for 22 years, and have not paid into the social security system in all those years. I`m afraid of losing my benefits when I reach age 66 in 2 years.

Hi Gail,
Don't worry! Your benefits will stay the same when you convert to retirement benefits.

This is NOT true. My benefits were reduced by $130 per month when I was converted from SSDI to SS retirement. I have been on SSDI for three years and received a letter from Social Security which stated: "We are changing the type of benefit you receive from Social Security. Beginning August 2015 you are entitled to retirement benefits. You are no longer entitled to disabilty benefits because you have reached full retirement age." I could barely live on what I received before this; when one is close to poverty level, $130 is a fortune.

Hi JC,
I am very sorry to hear this! I have never heard of this happening before. My only assumption is that additional funds were taken out to pay for more Medicare coverage. Did you ever get a reason why the funds were reduced other than switching over to retirement benefits?

Hi Donna,
No, your benefit will not increase or decrease when you hit your full retirement age.

Hi Linda,
No, you will not get SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time. When you hit your full retirement age, which will be around 66-67, your SSDI benefits will convert to retirement benefits. Your monthly payment will not change.

For your purposes, (i.e. the bottom line) it actually will go down but you are still receiving the same benefit. The reason your net check will be less will be because once you are actually on SS they will begin to withhold for Medicare. So, the gross is the same but you'll receive roughly $130 or so less each month to cover insurance/medicare. Everyone on SS has money withheld for medicare.

Hi Kay,
Wouldn't someone have Medicare benefits withheld from their payment if they've been receiving benefits for more than two years?

It will stay the same, it will not change and it will not become lower. This is according to the SSDI handbook. It will be done automatically at your full retirement age.

so, if the person has worked several years before becoming disabled, the amount will still stay the same after the full retirement age?

I would like to know if my benefit for SSDI will remain the same. I have been on SSDI for 22 years not paying into the system.

Hi Gail,
You will go through what's known as a Disability Freeze, meaning that your earnings from work will be counted, not the time you have not been working due to a disability.

I took SS early (62) and was placed on disability at 63 while still working part time. (am now 65) Just a few hundred a month was added to my monthly SS payment. So, as far as the max I can earn, is that dictated by the SS guidelines ($15, 700 {?} annually) or SSDI at $1070/month? I've been trying to get this answered for months while adhering to the lower earnings level. Thanks much!! fotomandan@gmail.com

Hi Dan,

As of 2015, the maximum earnings per month is $1090. I would always go by the monthly maximum.

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