When Will Disability Benefits Convert to Social Security?

In this article...
  • People who receive disability and are approaching retirement may have questions about the transition between disability and regular Social Security payments.

If you are currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, you may wonder what happens when you reach official retirement age and are eligible to receive regular Social Security. Understanding the process of transitioning from disability to Social Security can help you enjoy greater peace of mind regarding this important change in your benefits.

Can I Receive Both Disability and Retirement Benefits From Social Security?

In most cases, the answer is no. The benefits you receive through Social Security Disability Insurance, also known as SSDI, are the same amount that you would receive in regular Social Security benefits at your full retirement age. When you reach this milestone, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will convert your current disability benefits into retirement benefits. For most people, the amount received in benefits will not change because of this conversion.

What Is Full Retirement Age?

The current full retirement age instituted by the SSA is between 66 and 67 years. At this point, retirees can claim 100% of the benefits they have earned during their lifetime. Because SSDI uses the same calculations for determining benefits as are used to calculate retirement benefits at full retirement age, you can expect little or no change in the amount you receive in benefits for disability and those you will receive in converted retirement benefits.

An Exception to the Rule

While most people will see little or no difference in the amount of monthly payment they receive after their disability benefits convert to retirement benefits, there is one important exception. If you are currently receiving worker's compensation or public disability benefits from a federal job, you may not have paid Social Security taxes for these benefits. As a result, your SSDI payment may be reduced to account for these additional funds.

When your SSDI benefits convert to regular Social Security retirement benefits, your payments will no longer be reduced. In these instances, you may see a small to significant increase in the amount of your monthly benefits when you officially transition from disability to retirement benefits from the SSA.

A Note About Spousal Benefits

According to the SSA, spousal and family benefits for those receiving SSDI payments are capped at 50% of your benefits per individual and about 180% for an entire family. These spousal and family benefits are available in specific situations that may not apply to you. The spousal benefit will not increase to the full amount of your retirement benefit when you reach full retirement age or when your spouse does.