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

Submitted by Shane on Mon, 08/29/2016 - 15:18

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.

Blog comments


In reply to by Jenny Stegall (not verified)

Hi Jenny,
If your benefits were converted to Retirement benefits, then you would be able to work without any restriction as retirement benefits do not have an earned income limit.

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 10:00 Permalink

In reply to by mrs martha jan… (not verified)

Hi there,
your SSDI benefits would convert to retirement benefits, however the amount would not change.

Mon, 09/19/2016 - 10:13 Permalink
Pamela (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

This answer is in correct, I have been on ssdi since 2004 and I worked from 2009-2013 until I had a tumor on the brain partially removed, I was earning around 700 a month part time and each year my ck increased some, and it was not because of the cola because some years there was no cola increase but I got one anyway.

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:07 Permalink

In reply to by Renee Rivers (not verified)

Hi Renee,
It may be the same, generally the amount doesn't change when disability benefits transfer to retirement benefits.

Mon, 10/24/2016 - 10:49 Permalink
max (not verified)

how much can i expect to receive at retirement age 67 in 2034 with current ssdi gross16546.80 ?
what is the formula for that ? thank you

Thu, 11/05/2015 - 19:32 Permalink

In reply to by max (not verified)

Hi Max,
We actually cannot calculate that. The SSA changes its formula slightly every year, so you won't know until your year of retirement.

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:19 Permalink
Billy white (not verified)

I have an opportunity to accept gainful employment and am currently receiving SSDI. I will be 65 in December and want to drop SSDI and begin receiving Social Security which will allow me to earn more than I legally can under SSDI. I know I will lose $1 for every $2 I earn over $15,700. My question is, can I do this and will I receive the same amount of Social Security I would have normally received if I had become age 66--less the penalty which I figure would be 7.3%?

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 05:33 Permalink

In reply to by Billy white (not verified)

Hi Billy,
I believe your retirement percentage would be significantly lower if you have been receiving SSDI for a number of years. Wouldn't the SSA take your unearned income years as 0s towards your work history if you work enough to become disqualified from SSDI benefits and then just take full retirement benefits? Hopefully someone else knows a lot more about this than I do! I would personally advise waiting until you hit full retirement age and have your full SSDI benefits, plus the opportunity to work as much as you please.

Mon, 11/09/2015 - 09:59 Permalink
srt (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

you can make up to 700.00 per month , and still be on Disability, with out it effecting your disability income. Just watch your earnings and don't go over 700.00 , there is a penalty if you go over , put I don't know how the penalty works. And of course there the Ticket to work program , if you work passed 9 months , it could cut your disability, it' s just a trial to see in you can hold down a full time job under pressure under a hi demanding supervisor. I have panic attacks when anyone rushes me and I become dis functional .plus about 6 other disorders

Tue, 06/07/2016 - 17:53 Permalink

In reply to by srt (not verified)

Hi srt,
It's true, you can work without losing benefits, though the amount you can earn really depends on if you're getting SSDI or SSI

Wed, 06/08/2016 - 15:46 Permalink
Richard Bredon (not verified)

In reply to by srt (not verified)

The amount is an average of $1,060.00/mo. of earned income before SSDI is reduced. Even after the trial work period of 9 months, you still are able to pay to stay on Medicare for 7 more years. Also, if you need to return to disability, all that is required is informing your local SS Office. It is an automatic thing and does not require a re-application until you have been working for 3 consecutive years. So, the reality is is that it is best to determine what you really can do physically and if it makes sense to earn just over the maximum each month to eliminate your benefits.

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 17:18 Permalink
Pamela (not verified)

In reply to by srt (not verified)

The ticket to work program is not none comsecutive months and it has to be substantial gainfull employment and 700 a month is not SGE! I know because I did it and if it had been SGE that nine months can turn out to be years because it is not consecutive. I worked for four years part time eaning less than 720 a month and that amount increases periodically just keep ckeckng on it.

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:18 Permalink
Karen V. (not verified)

In reply to by Bryan

I have a question. I am currently receiving disability payments monthly and have for the last five years. I will turn age 62 in November 2017. Will I be able to get on early retirement at 62 and get off of disability without decreasing the amount of retirement too much? Again, I will turn 62 in November 2017. Would that hurt me too much to wait until 66 years of age so that I can get off of disability and try to work some?

Mon, 06/19/2017 - 16:00 Permalink
WENDY (not verified)

In reply to by Billy white (not verified)

I believe that your SSDI turns into "retirement" Social Security automatically at your personal SSA retirement age (66years old) and the amount stays the same unless I am misunderstanding the question.

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 16:38 Permalink
Sharon Tucker (not verified)

I was determined disabled in, I believe, 1995. I am told however that I'm receiving SSI even though I was born in 1950. This is confusing to me. Can someone explain to me why?

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 22:32 Permalink
Pam (not verified)

In reply to by Sharon Tucker (not verified)

SSI is not social security it is supplemental security income and you qualify if you did not earn enough to get full SSDI or earned enough to pay into SS, and the rules are different.

SSI is a needs based program an so every dollar you earn they reduce your SSI dollar for dollar, but you get medicaid with ssi even if you only get $1 a month.

You can also work & receive both ssdi and ssi but in order not to loose your medicaid keep it under $720 a month. That amount is for ssi rules its not considered SGE, but under ssdi rules program earning over $1000 or more is SGE, they will deduct for medicare premiums if you go over $720 a month if your on ssi. One of the benefits is ssi pays your Medicare premiums. The $720 also helps them recalculate your ssdi for little increases while reducing your ssi. I get $19 in ssi and they give me medicaid and pay my medicare premiums. It gets complicated if you are on both programs. I suggest reading their website its all their.

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:50 Permalink
Lindsey Ripley (not verified)

If someone has been receiving social security benefits for 10 years and therefore only has 25 years of earnings at age 65, will the amount of retirement benefits he receives be lower than the amount of disability benefits he had been receiving?

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 14:28 Permalink

In reply to by Lindsey Ripley (not verified)

Hi Lindsey,
They actually won't. When an applicant is approved for SSDI, his/her earnings statement goes through what's called a "disability freeze." This means that the amount of SSDI benefits earned monthly will remain the same, even throughout retirement after the recipient has not been working.

Thu, 11/12/2015 - 12:38 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

At 62 can I do a sit down job or will I still loose everything including my medicare. Been disabled since age 56? Just got bills from drs pilling up and cancer

Thu, 12/10/2015 - 16:30 Permalink
Jackie (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

I receive Medicare and ssdi payments monthly I am forced financially to take part time work will i loose my payments and Medicare I am 60 will be 61 in April 2016

Fri, 02/12/2016 - 08:11 Permalink

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