When Does Social Security Disability Convert to Retirement?

The Social Security Administration has two separate programs to provide financial assistance for someone who is disabled and unable to work. The Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs differ in many ways, including what happens to the Social Security disability benefits when you reach retirement age.

Benefits paid through the Social Security disability insurance program convert to Social Security retirement benefits. How and when this conversion occurs need not be a cause for concern, but you should have at least a basic understanding of how it works and its effect, if any, on you.

Eligibility for Social Security disability

If you are disabled and unable to work because of a medical condition, you may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A temporary, short-term disability would not be sufficient to qualify under the guidelines for the SSD programs administered by the Social Security Administration.

Under federal law, a disabling medical condition must last for at least one year or be expected to result in the applicant’s death. If you meet the SSA’s definition of being disabled then to qualify for benefits, you must have also accumulated sufficient work credits during your years of employment to be eligible for benefits through the Social Security disability insurance program.

How and when do benefits through Social Security disability convert?

Benefits under Social Security disability insurance convert to retirement benefits when you become eligible for Social Security retirement. An incorrect assumption many people make about Social Security retirement benefits is that eligibility begins at 65 years of age. The assumption is only partially true.

The age at which you become eligible for retirement benefits through Social Security ranges from 65 years and two months to 67 years of age. It depends on the year of your birth. For example, someone born in 1938 became eligible for retirement benefits two months after they turned 65. People born in or after 1960 must wait until at least their 67th birthday before applying for Social Security.

If you have been receiving disability payments through the SSDI program, they will automatically convert to Social Security retirement benefits when you reach the retirement age for your birth year. This is referred to as the full retirement age. It is the age when you are entitled to collect the maximum retirement benefits based upon the earnings you had over your lifetime. It should not be confused with the early retirement election available at 62 years of age when you may qualify for a reduced retirement benefit.

Effect of conversion of payments to Social Security

You should not notice any change in the amount you receive each month when payments through SSDI convert to Social Security retirement. The conversion means the rules and regulations that govern the Social Security disability insurance program no longer apply to you, including the limits on the amount of money you may earn without jeopardizing the continuation of SSDI benefits.

The guidelines for SSDI impose limitations on the amount you may earn each month from work or self-employment. If you are blind, the current monthly limit of earned income is $2,190. It is $1,310 for individuals with other forms of qualifying disabilities. Earnings above either amount indicate that you can perform “substantial gainful activity” and will result in the suspension of disability benefits.

The SSDI guidelines for earned income and substantial gainful activity apply when you are receiving disability payments. The limitations do not apply when your SSDI payments convert to retirement benefits through Social Security.

Social Security retirement and SSI payments

It may turn out that the number of work credits you earned did not make you eligible for disability payments through the SSDI program, but limited income and financial resources make you eligible for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program. SSI pays benefits for anyone who meets the financial criteria and falls into one of the following categories:

1). 65 years of age or older.
2). Blind.
3). Disabled as defined under the SSI guidelines.

There are other eligibility rules that you must meet, such as residing in the United States, to receive benefits. Unlike the SSDI program, payments you receive through SSI do not convert to Social Security retirement benefits. However, if you are eligible for payments from Social Security retirement, your SSI payments will be reduced by the monthly retirement benefits.

Obtain sound advice and assistance from a professional

Understanding the countless rules and procedures standing in the way of receiving the disability benefits you know you deserve can be challenging. There is no reason to go through the process without the professional guidance of the disability advocates at London Eligibility. They take away the guesswork and uncertainty because they know the regulations and how to prepare applications and other documents to avoid errors that may result in delays or a denial of benefits. When you have questions about Social Security disability, speak with one of their experienced advocates.