The Basics on Retirement Benefits and How They Affect Your Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

What happens to my Social Security disability benefits when I reach full retirement age?

If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the amount of your disability benefits will not change when you reach full retirement age.  When you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits will become retirement benefits.

Starting with the month you reach full retirement age, you will be eligible to receive your benefits with no limit to your earnings.

What is my full retirement age?

You may begin receiving retirement benefits as early as your 62nd birthday.  Accepting benefits earlier than your full retirement age, however, will mean a reduced benefit amount.

The age in which you may claim your full retirement benefits depends on the year you were born. Individuals born on or before 1937 reach full retirement age at 65 and individuals born on or between 1943 and 1954 reach full retirement age at 66.

Individuals born on or between 1955 and 1959 must wait an additional 2 months for every year in which they were born after 1954 to reach full retirement age. Someone born in 1957, for example, reaches full retirement age at 66 years and 6 months. Finally, individuals born on 1960 and beyond will not reach full retirement age until their 67th birthday.

Do I qualify for retirement benefits?

Just as in SSDI benefits, when you work, you earn credits towards your retirement benefits.  The amount of credits needed to receive retirement benefits depends on the year in which you are born.

Generally, individuals born on or after 1929 will need around forty credits to receive retirement benefits.  Forty credits equals approximately ten years of full-time work.

What kind of benefits can my family members be eligible for if I’m receiving retirement benefits?

Your husband or wife and your minor children may be eligible for benefits once you become eligible for retirement benefits.  Children up to age nineteen may also be eligible if they are full-time students who have not graduated from high school.  There are age restrictions to your husband or wife receiving benefits as well.  Spouses generally need to be at least 62 years old to be eligible for benefits; however, those under 62 may still qualify for benefits if they are the guardians of a disabled child or a child under the age of 16.

For more detailed information, please contact your local Social Security office or an attorney specializing in Social Security law.