From Disability to Retirement: What Happens to Your SSDI Benefits at Age 65?

What happens when someone with Social Security disability benefits reaches age 65? Here are 5 things to know about converting disability to retirement benefits.

Individuals who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can expect to see quite a change when they turn 65. 

At that age, SSDI benefits are converted to traditional Social Security benefits. What does that mean for Social Security SSDI beneficiaries?

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1. You do not need to take any action to convert SSDI to retirement benefits

Your benefits will technically change from Social Security Disability Insurance to Social Security retirement benefits at the appropriate time.

There is no action that you must take. You will still receive your monthly check just as you always have. 

You may not collect Social Security disability and retirement benefits at the same time.

2. SSDI may convert to retirement benefits at age 65, 66 or 67

Only people born before 1937 receive full Social Security retirement benefits upon turning 65. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer, and that includes people who receive Social Security disability benefits. 

People born in 1955 (turning 65 in 2020) must wait until they are 66 years and 2 months old before they reach “full retirement age” and their conversion from Social Security disability to retirement benefits will take effect.

The rest of the breakdown of how old you must be to reach Social Security’s full retirement age according to your year of birth is as follows:

  • Born in 1956 - 66 years, 4 months
  • 1957 - 66 years, 6 months
  • 1958 - 66 years, 8 months
  • 1959 - 66 years, 10 months
  • 1960 and later - 67 years

3. The amount of your Social Security benefits check is not likely to change

When you become eligible for disability benefits, Social Security sets your benefit amount as if you had reached full retirement age. For most beneficiaries, the amount of their Social Security retirement benefit check remains the same as their Social Security disability benefits check. 

One exception to this rule is if you are receiving workers’ compensation or a public disability benefit from a government job for which you did not pay Social Security taxes. These additional benefits can reduce your actual Social Security disability payment amount. That reduction may end when you reach full retirement age, and your monthly check amount may increase at that time. 

4. You’re no longer subject to limits on your earnings

When you’re on disability benefits, any additional income you earn can potentially limit your disability benefit payment amounts. But those limits are lifted when your benefits are converted to Social Security retirement benefits.

That means you can increase your income through a part-time job without impacting your monthly benefit amount. 

5. You cannot convert SSDI to retirement benefits before age 65

Reaching age 62 opens the door for collecting partial Social Security benefits. However, if you are collecting Social Security disability benefits, you will not be able to convert your benefits to Social Security retirement benefits until you reach age 65 at the earliest. 

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Reaching retirement age means that you may also be considering your Medicare coverage options.

Medicare can be confusing, and depending on where you live, there may be a number of different Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans available in your area.

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About the author

Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.

His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.

Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.

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