When Does Social Security Disability Convert To Regular Social Security?

Published on: March 13, 2023

Collecting Social Security disability benefits may be a new experience, so you may wonder what happens when you get older and become eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. It’s a common question. 

The simple answer is that you cannot collect retirement benefits on your Social Security account at the same time as you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The longer and more detailed answer is that benefits through Social Security disability convert to regular retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age. 

The remainder of this article explains the relationship between SSDI and retirement benefits, including what is meant by “full retirement age” and what you need to know about opting for early retirement when you are disabled. If you have any questions about what you read and how it applies to your claim, feel free to contact a disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida. 

What Is Full Retirement Age For Social Security? 

You must have worked long enough and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes on your income to be eligible to receive benefits through the retirement and disability programs administered by the Social Security Administration. When you reach full retirement age, which is based on the year of your birth, you may collect benefits based on your lifetime earnings record. 

When a medically determinable physical or mental impairment causes a person to be disabled and unable to continue working, their disability may allow them to qualify for disability benefits. SSDI benefits are generally equivalent to the retirement benefit a person would receive at full retirement age. However, certain benefits, such as workers’ compensation or public disability benefits, may reduce how much you receive from SSDI each month. 

Full retirement age is based on the year of your birth. Anyone born in 1960 or later has a full retirement age of 67. In contrast, if you were born in 1959, your full retirement age is 66 years and 10 months. 

Medicare enrollment typically happens when you reach age 65. If you qualify for SSDI benefits, you qualify for Medicare after receiving disability benefits for at least 24 months. Some medical conditions, such as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is also referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, may qualify for Medicare sooner. 

Do not confuse full retirement with early retirement. You can begin receiving retirement benefits at age 62, but the monthly amount that you get will be less than what you could receive by waiting until full retirement age. 

If you work while collecting early retirement benefits, there is a limit on how much you can earn. The earnings limit in 2023 is $21,240. If you exceed the earnings limit, the Social Security Administration deducts $1 from your monthly retirement benefit for every $2 that your earnings exceed the annual limit. 

The earnings limit is higher in the year that you reach full retirement age. If you reach full retirement age in 2023, you can earn as much as $56,520 annually without it affecting your early retirement benefits. There is a $1 reduction in your early retirement benefit for every $3 in earnings that exceed the annual limit. 

Full Retirement Age Chart for Social Security disability


Full Retirement Age And SSDI 

If you are disabled, the benefits you get through Social Security disability convert automatically to retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age. You will not miss any payments or see any change in the amount that you get each month when your SSDI converts to retirement payments. 

When you receive SSDI payments that were reduced because you received public disability payments or workers’ compensation benefits, the conversion to retirement benefits will result in an increase in what you receive each month. This is because the offset for public disability or workers’ compensation benefits only applies to SSDI, not retirement payments. 

Disability benefits payable through the Supplemental Security Income program are not affected by the fact that you reach full retirement age. You may receive SSI benefits for as long as you meet the eligibility requirements for the program. SSI is a need-based program that is funded through general tax revenues and not through the Social Security trust fund. 

Early Retirement And SSDI

It’s not uncommon for a person to opt for early retirement benefits and discover later that they have a medical condition that may qualify for SSDI. If you find yourself in such a situation, talk to a disability advocate because you may have the option to apply for SSDI and retroactively receive the difference between early retirement benefits and the SSDI payment provided Social Security determines that your disability began before you applied for early retirement. 

Get Help With SSDI And SSI From A Disability Advocate 

Whether you need assistance applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial or termination of benefits, a disability advocate at Disability Experts of Florida can help. Contact us today for a free consultation and claim review.

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