You are here

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.

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.

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.