Will My Disability Benefits Change When I Turn 65?

If you have a disability and qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, it’s understandable to be anxious upon learning that disability benefits change after 65. You successfully underwent a lengthy and confusing application process that annually denies about 67% of disability benefit claims. The last thing you want is for your benefits to change for no reason other than reaching age 65.

The disability lawyers at the Clauson Law Firm compiled this guide to reassure you that no one is coming after your disability benefits because you have reached age 65. They’ve included information about how the two disability programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), work as you get older.

A particularly important section explains how your SSDI benefits convert to Social Security retirement benefits at full retirement age. This is okay, though, because not only will you not lose your disability benefits, but the change to retirement benefits may increase the amount you receive each month.

Instead of worrying, read this guide to learn about the benefits available through the Social Security Administration for people with disabilities. Here’s some encouraging news: The approval rates of new applications for disability benefits increase significantly after 60. If you have any questions, a disability lawyer at Clauson Law will answer them and show you how to protect your SSI and SSDI benefits.

How The Social Security Disability Benefits Programs Work

The Social Security Administration has two disability benefits programs: SSDI and SSI. The SSI program provides benefits in the form of monthly payments for people who are disabled or blind. It also provides benefits to people who are not blind or disabled if they are at least 65 years old.

SSI is a need-based program, so applicants must meet financial guidelines to qualify for benefits. You must have little or no income, and the assets or resources available to you cannot have a value in excess of $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for married couples. You also must be a U.S. citizen or national and reside in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands.

The SSDI program is reserved for individuals with a history of working at jobs and paying Social Security taxes on the money they earned. This differs from the SSI program, which does not require a work history for eligibility.

Social Security disability benefits through the SSDI program are for people who worked long enough and recently enough to meet eligibility requirements. SSDI helps workers who become disabled before reaching the age at which they can qualify for Social Security retirement.

A person’s SSDI monthly benefits are based on their earnings record in contrast to monthly SSI payments set at $943 for individuals in 2024 and $1,415 for couples. What you actually receive from SSI may be more if you live in one of the states that provide a state-funded supplemental payment to their residents. Contact Clauson Law to learn more about supplemental payments in your state.

If you have countable income from other sources, including earnings from work, your federal SSI benefits could be less than $943 for individuals and $1,415 for couples. Some income does not count toward reducing your monthly SSI payment, so speak to a Clauson disability lawyer to determine the effect earned or unearned income will have on your disability benefits through SSI.

How Do My Disability Benefits Change After 65?

If you’re wondering, “Will my disability benefits change after 65?” The answer depends on whether you receive payments through SSI or SSDI. Let’s first examine the SSI program.

As a general rule, as long as you meet the medical, financial, citizenship, and residency requirements of the SSI program, your benefits continue beyond age 65. If you qualify for SSI benefits because of a disability, the Social Security Administration periodically reviews your claim.

The purpose of a periodic disability review is to confirm that adult recipients of SSI are unable to engage in substantial gainful activities because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. The medical criteria for a child on SSI is a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments causing marked and severe functional limitations expected to last for at least 12 months or expected to result in death.

SSI benefits do not change as you age as long as you continue to meet the eligibility guidelines. However, the amount of the monthly payments may change due to annual cost-of-living adjustments the federal government uses to offset the effects of inflation.

The other change would be increases and decreases caused by earned and unearned income changes. Income you receive during the month may reduce the federal SSI benefit. However, not all income counts.

For example, you can apply a general income exclusion of $20 to earned or unearned income you receive during a month. You can also exclude the first $65 of earned income and half of the remaining earned income for a month. The disability professionals at Clauson Law can ensure that your monthly SSI benefits give you credit for all available exclusions.

SSDI Benefits When You Reach Age 65

If you receive Social Security disability benefits through the SSDI program, it’s because you paid into the Social Security Retirement System through payroll taxes on the money earned from working. When workers who paid into the Social Security System become disabled and unable to work before retirement age, they can qualify for disability benefits.

A person’s amount through SSDI and retirement benefits is calculated based on their lifetime earnings. As a result, when a person on SSDI reaches full retirement age, their SSDI automatically converts to retirement benefits.

The Social Security Administration handles the conversion without an SSDI beneficiary having to take any action. You need to know that your age to collect full retirement benefits is probably not 65.

When the Social Security system began, the age for full retirement was 65, which only applied to people born before 1937. The Social Security retirement gradually increased over the years based on a person’s birth year. The full retirement age is 67, which is the age for conversion of your SSDI to retirement benefits to retirement benefits if you were born in 1960 or later.

What Happens When a Person Takes Early Retirement Benefits from Social Security?

You can file for Social Security retirement benefits at age 62. Do not confuse this with the benefits you receive by waiting until your full retirement age. Early retirement comes at a cost.

The retirement benefits you receive can be up to 30% less than what you get by waiting until full retirement age and continue at a reduced rate for the remainder of your life. The reduced retirement benefit is why someone eligible for Social Security disability benefits is better off by taking their SSDI benefits and waiting until full retirement age to let them convert to Social Security retirement benefits without incurring a penalty.

If you took early retirement benefits and became disabled before reaching the age for full retirement, you could apply for SSDI. You must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for at least one year or is expected to result in death and prevent you from doing substantial gainful activities.

The advantage of applying for SSDI even after receiving early retirement benefits is that your disability payments are calculated without the early retirement reduction. You’ll receive your full SSDI payment each month until reaching the age of full retirement, at which point the disability benefits convert to retirement benefits at the reduced early retirement amount.

Speak to one of the knowledgeable disability lawyers at Clauson Law to discuss the early retirement and disability benefit options available to you. Applying for early retirement when you have a disability that may qualify for SSDI can have risks, which should be discussed with a disability lawyer.

When It Comes To Social Security Disability Benefits, Age Has Its Advantages

Older applicants may have an easier time qualifying for SSDI because of Medical Vocational Guidelines, known as grid rules, used by the Social Security Administration. Grid rules generally make it easier for applicants age 50 and older to prove they have a qualifying disability.

Another benefit of age is when SSDI benefits convert to Social Security retirement payments. Whether someone receiving SSDI is capable of doing substantial gainful activities is determined by how much they earn each month. The SGA monthly amount in 2024 is $1,550 for someone with a disability other than being statutorily blind, and it is $2,590 for blind individuals. When disability benefits convert to retirement, you no longer have limits on how much you can earn.

Get Help With Social Security Disability Benefits

The disability lawyers at the Clauson Law Firm provide trusted advice and outstanding representation in all matters related to Social Security disability benefits and veterans benefits in North Carolina and throughout the United States. Contact Clauson Law today for a free consultation.

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Clauson Law has focused on representing the injured and disabled for over 10 years. We have handled thousands of cases. Each client is important to us and has a unique situation.

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