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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.


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 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.

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 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!!

Hi Dan,

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

The same question, only instead of SSDI, what about SSI (or supplemental security income) entering into retirement age? What happens there? Is the age or retirement the same? The benefit amount?

Hi Bob, As far as I'm aware, SSI benefits do not change after retirement age. They are still reviewed yearly and adjusted as needed.

I received a letter today stating that my disability was changing to full retirement...Amount is the same but they said I will receive my January money in FEB! Why won't I get a check this month? No one ever said I'd go a month without a check...and right after the holidays...Is this really the way they do things?

I have the same question! I got the same letter for my father. Did you call and get clarification? I went online and we started an account for him and it says he is getting paid in January. But the letter seems like he will not get a check until Feb. Ugg! Wondering if you called and clarified. It is on my to-do list next week, work is too busy for me to take the time today. Thanks!

Hi... I am getting SSDI, and am age 61. Wife is same age. What happens when SHE turns 62: Can she collect early? How is it calculated? She would probably want to collect the "spousal" benefit, which would probably be higher than her own benefit. Thank you

Hi Alan, If your wife begins collecting her retirement early, she will receive a percentage less than she would have if she waited till her full retirement age. If she's turning 62, I believe she'd receive 75% of her full benefits.

What if a recipient of disability benefits wanted to switch to retirement benefits early at age 62? Though the recipient earned the maximum payments (paid maximum ss taxes in the 1980s) he has been receiving only half of his benefits (since 1998) because of an offset due to workers compensation (which was based on lower salary of job when injured and not based on life time earnings) that is paid in an annuity for his lifetime. If he was switched from disability to retirement even with the 25% loss for starting at 62, he would receive substantially more. How does one apply for this change? Note: problems in workers compensation interpretation in this complicated claim resulted in 6 years of social security litigation (where recipient lost over $45,000 that was rightfully his) in five different federal courts with 4 different lawyers, one of whom (the one who messed up the wording of the insurance settlement) walked away with over $75,000 profit. I finally was able to clear up the problem with just plain logic and lots of copies of laws and doing the math for a judge. So, no, hiring a lawyer is not a possibility.

Phew, what a question. I honestly have no idea what the answer is because this is very specific. I would advise that you get in touch with a local SSA office to find out more.

I am divorced, was married 29 years and it is my understanding I automatically get half his SSI . My ex-husband is on disability, what age can I start collecting?

Hi Diane, I'm sorry, but if your husband was on SSI then you are not entitled to any of his benefits. That only happens with couples on SSDI. SSI is need-based.

If you worked and paid into social security you get your social security not your ex husbands. Why would you want his money he earned while you also earned money through social security? You said Ex husband, so why not leave him alone since you got a divorce.

That was a very rude comment. I can see that you have deep issues and little understanding. Whether you are divorced or widowed, you have a right to the ex-husbands wages and it doesn't affect his whatsoever. Get the chip off your shoulder, there are many women barely surviving from abandonment and other.

She won't get his money. She is looking to see what she is eligible for. What she gets, if anything will not affect her ex's benefit at all.


Obviously you have never read the rules pertaining to SS. The money does not come out of the husbands pocket. The rule was enacted because most wives take care of families and work for less money. If their ex husband made more money then her retirement amount could be increased by taking his account's amount. Simple as that.

That was not a very nice thing to write. It would seem you are not pleased with your own divorce. What she is entitled to is not part of a divorce settlement. She is entitled to half of his SS if it is larger that hers. it does not take a dime out of his pocket all.

My ex-husband is on Social Security Disability since 2001 and is age 60 this coming June. I will be 62 this March. May I still collect on his benefits beginning at age 62 even though he has not reached 62 yet? Second question: do I have to wait 2 years after our divorce to be able to collect? Thank you!

Hi Sue, To my knowledge, you cannot begin collecting benefits until after age 62, so I would not advise applying until after that point. As for waiting for two years, I do not believe that you need to do that, but keep in mind that you must have been married for at least 10 years to collect a percentage of his SSDI benefits.

When they switched me to retirement AGS 1949 year of. Birth I was making $100.00 more was taken from me. The retirement benefits are from the x husband retirement only $400.00 and sum it is going to hurt me I am still disabled at 100% I can not work any more. Now what that money paid a bill I am very upset what can I do?

I receive social security disability, and was wondering once I hit 65 can I change or stop social security disability and file social security using my spouses social security,and hows that done

Hi Barb, When you turn 65 your disability payments should automatically convert to retirement benefits. You'll need to contact the SSA representative who handles your case for more details on how to file on your spouses' behalf.

Hi Kathy,
This is most likely correct, but it depends on Barb's current age. Some people's FRA is 65, some is 66, some are even up to 67 now.

hi, I am receiving ssd payments. they money I get is based on my deceased husbands work record. I understand that at age 60 I can receive retirement ss based on my husbands work record. my question is this: if I wait to convert to ss retirement at a later age would I get more money? Or wont the amount change because he is deceased? Would he have had to work to 75 for me to get the max on his ss? or is it based on when you decide to collect it? I am confused.

Hi Chrissy,

this answer would depend on how much you're receiving from your husband's payments. But if you wait to full retirement age, you would receive significantly more than if you began receiving retirement payments at age 62, which is the earliest age you can begin receiving retirement benefits. You can read more about delayed retirement benefits here.