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What Will Happen to My Disability Benefits When I Turn 65?

The first thing to realize with Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and retirement is that “full retirement age” is not always 65. In fact, 65 is only considered the age of retirement for those born in 1937 or earlier, so chances are that you will be among those who hit full retirement age at a later date. In any event, you will still want to know how your SSD benefits will be affected by hitting what is considered retirement age by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for someone in your age demographic.

When is Full Retirement Age for Me?

Over the years, the SSA has periodically adjusted the age of full retirement. There are several designations of full retirement age according to the SSA and each is defined by your date of birth. The breakdown is as follows:

Date of Birth Full Retirement Age
1937 or before 65
1938 65 +2 months
1939 65 +4 months
1940 65 +6 months
1941 65 +8 months
1942 65 +10 months
1943 to 1954 66
1955 66 +2 months
1956 66 +4 months
1957 66 +6 months
1958 66 +8 months
1959 66 +10 months
1960 or after 67


For the majority of current SSD beneficiaries, the age of full retirement is 67, which means you may have at least a couple more years before you need to be concerned with how hitting retirement age will affect your benefits; however, it’s good to understand the process in advance so there are no surprises when you do reach 67.

What Happens with My SSD When I Hit Full Retirement Age?

There are two major changes that take affect when you reach full retirement age. The first is that your benefits will no longer be paid through SSD. Instead, you will transition to the SSA’s “Old Age” or retirement program instead. Your benefits will not be interrupted with this transition and the benefit payment will be processed as usual. It will simply come in from a different Social Security fund rather than SSD, but you won’t even notice the difference.

The second change that comes with reaching full retirement age is that your benefits are no longer subject earning limits that were in place with your SSD benefits. In other words, you can increase your earnings from a part time job or other income source without losing dollars in your monthly benefit check.

Will Full Retirement Age Change My Benefit Amount?

Standard full retirement benefits from the SSA are calculated on what a worker contributed to the Social Security system over the course of their employment. Disability benefits are as well, so the amount of your monthly benefit payment is not affected by the transition from SSD to retirement benefits.

What’s Required for Me to Make the Transition?

SSD beneficiaries don’t have to do anything when they hit the age of full retirement. The SSA automatically transitions your benefits to the retirement fund without requiring you to complete new applications or other forms.

What about SSD and Early Retirement?

The SSA does currently allow people to apply for and begin receiving early retirement benefits at the age of 62; however, if you are disabled and have been receiving SSD benefits, then hitting early retirement age is not applicable for you. Instead, you would simply continue to receive SSD benefit until you reach the age of full retirement, at which time you would be transitioned from SSD to retirement benefits automatically by the SSA.