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What happens to my SSDI when I reach full retirement age?

August 17, 2021

By Shelley W. Elovitz, Esquire

If you are collecting Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits, you may wonder what happens when you reach full retirement age (FRA). The good news is, your benefits will automatically convert and for most people, your benefits remain the same.

SSDI benefits are dependent on how long you worked and what you paid into the Social Security system. When you applied for SSDI, your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA) was calculated based on your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME), so you are already collecting what you would normally receive for Social Security Retirement benefits and the switch happens automatically. If your spouse is receiving benefits based on your record, his/her benefits will also automatically convert. So when does it switch? Well, that will depend on when you were born: the table below can tell you when your Social Security Disability Income will change to Social Security Retirement.

1938 – 65 years and 2 months

1939 – 65 years and 4 months

1940 – 65 years and 6 months

1941 – 65 years and 8 months

1942 – 65 years and 10 months

1943 through 1954 – 66 years

1955 – 66 years and 2 months

1956 – 66 years and 4 months

1957 – 66 years and 6 months

1958 – 66 years and 8 months

1959 – 66 years and 10 months

1960 and later – 67 years

Can I increase my benefits when I reach retirement age?

It is possible to increase your benefits when you reach retirement age by suspending benefits for a time, but you need to weigh your options and evaluate your personal situation before you do so. All recipients of Social Security Retirement benefits have the option to suspend benefits up to age 70. For every month you suspend your benefits, you could earn 2/3 of 1%, up to 8% per year of suspended benefits. To put it simply, if you suspend benefits when you reach FRA, you can receive a larger benefit later. If your spouse is receiving benefits based on your record, then he/she will also have benefits suspended but will also be able to collect more when they resume.

You must weigh a number of factors to determine if this is the right tactic for you. Do you believe you (or your spouse) will live long enough to make the delay worthwhile? Do you have enough to live on if you suspend benefits now?  Do you have dependent children?

Another way your benefits may increase is if you are receiving workers’ compensation while collecting SSDI. You likely did not pay taxes on those Workers’ Comp benefits and those additional benefits may have reduced your SSDI payment. The good news is, when you reach full retirement age, this reduction ends, so your Social Security benefit would increase.

What about Medicare?

Most people enroll for Medicare around age 65. However, if you have been collecting SSDI benefits for 24 months or longer, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare, even if you are under 65. (If you were diagnosed with ALS, you were enrolled in Medicare sooner, usually during the month of your first SSDI payment).

If you have questions about your SSDI and Social Security Retirement benefits, contact us online or call Shelley Elovitz at (412) 338-1114.

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