At What Age Does Social Security Disability Stop?

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At What Age Does Social Security Disability Stop?

You’ve probably heard that Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) don’t last forever, and there’s a good reason for that. SSDI is intended to provide income for a worker who became disabled and was no longer able to earn a living. But, we’re not expected to work forever. Social Security disability benefits automatically terminate when the recipient reaches full retirement age. But, that’s no cause for alarm. 

When SSDI eligibility runs out because you’ve reached full retirement age, the benefits automatically transition to regular Social Security retirement benefits. The amount generally doesn’t change, and there shouldn’t be any gap. In other words, you likely won’t notice any difference at all. If you had Medicare coverage along with your SSDI, your coverage will continue. If your Social Security disability benefits were too new for your Medicare coverage to have kicked in, you’ll qualify when you switch over to retirement benefits. 

What is Full Retirement Age?

Full retirement age for Social Security purposes depends on your birthdate. So, not everyone’s benefits transition from SSDI to Social Security retirement benefits at the same age. 

If you were born before 1955, your full retirement age is 66. From there on, full retirement age increases by two months per year, up to age 67. Here’s what that looks like: 

Born in 1955: Full retirement age is 66 and 2 months

Born in 1956: Full retirement age is 66 and 4 months

Born in 1957: Full retirement age is 66 and 6 months

Born in 1958: Full retirement age is 66 and 8 months

Born in 1959: Full retirement age is 66 and 10 months

Born in 1960 or after: Full retirement age is 67

People who are not receiving disability benefits have the option of delaying receipt of Social Security retirement benefits until age 70 in exchange for a higher monthly benefit. But, SSDI recipients don’t have that option: their benefits will transition automatically when they reach full retirement age based on their birth year. 

Does social security disability Ever Stop Before Retirement Age? 

There are some situations in which Social Security disability benefits will terminate before the recipient reaches full retirement age, and will not immediately transition to retirement benefits. 

Ticket to Work 

Sometimes, people who are receiving social security disability want to try to return to work. When that happens, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a trial work program. This allows disability recipients to test the waters and find out whether they are truly ready to return to work without putting their benefits at risk. You can even get help and support, such as vocational training, to help you return to work.

An SSDI recipient can have earnings in excess of the SSA’s limit during any nine months within a 60-month period without losing benefits. Benefits don’t terminate immediately when the nine months are successfully completed, either. Instead, the recipient enters an extended period of eligibility (EPE). For up to 36 months, you can continue to receive SSDI benefits as long as you are still medically qualified and you don’t earn more than the SSA’s threshold for substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2023, that amount is $1,470 in a month for most people. The threshold is higher for recipients who are legally blind. 

A single month of higher earnings can terminate your benefits once you’re in the EPE, so it’s very important to make sure you understand the rules and limits clearly if you take advantage of this program. 

Change in Medical Eligibility

You may think that once you’ve pushed through the SSDI application and appeals process and been awarded benefits, you’ll keep receiving those benefits until you reach retirement age. For most people, that’s true. But, the SSA conducts periodic reviews to make sure an SSDI recipient is still eligible for benefits. Most recipients will have to submit an update report every three years. If SSA determines that you no longer meet the criteria for medical disability, your benefits could be terminated. 

Other Reasons social security disability Benefits Could Be Terminated or Suspended

Some interruptions of or disqualifications from receiving SSDI benefits have nothing to do with your medical condition or ability to work. Some other reasons you could temporarily or permanently lose benefits include: 

  • There’s an outstanding warrant for your arrest for one of a short list of felonies involving flight to avoid prosecution or escape; 
  • You’ve been convicted of a crime and are confined to a prison, jail, penal institution, or correctional facility; 
  • You are in violation of probation or parole; or
  • You have left the United States and are in one of a handful of countries where the SSA can’t send benefits

Managing Your SSDI Benefits

Aging out of Social Security disability benefits is nothing to worry about. When that happens, the SSDI recipient is smoothly transitioned to regular retirement benefits. Though the payment will come from a different fund, everything else usually stays the same. And, if you’ve been on Social Security disability, you won’t have to worry about the usual number of work credits required to qualify for retirement benefits. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t lose benefits. As you can see, there are several reasons benefits might be lost or suspended. Some of them may have come as a surprise. To protect your benefits, it’s important to understand your rights and obligations, from knowing what sorts of information must be reported to the SSA to understanding when and how to challenge a decision by the SSA. For example, you have a right to request reconsideration of and even appeal a negative decision on your continuing disability review.

If this seems a little overwhelming or confusing, don’t worry. Help is available. 

Disability Help Group is Here for You

At Disability Help Group, our advocates have extensive experience with the Social Security disability application and appeals processes. Whether you’re just preparing to apply, have applied and been denied, or have received a negative determination on your disability review, we can help. 
To learn more about our services and how we can help you pursue the benefits you deserve, call (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.

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