According to information published by the Social Security Administration, what you heard about how difficult it is to qualify for Social Security disability benefits is true. On average, only 22% of people filing initial applications for benefits receive an approval letter while the rest either give up or challenge the determination with the assistance of a disability lawyer from NY Disability.
Whether you are one of the fortunate few whose application for benefits was approved right away or had to fight for them through the appeal process, once your monthly payments start, the last thing you want is for them to stop. The truth is that reaching retirement age may make your Social Security disability convert to retirement benefits, but it depends on which disability program you receive them through. Here is some information about reaching retirement age and what effect it may have on your Social Security disability.
Social Security disability programs
The Social Security Administration has two programs offering monthly cash payments to individuals who are disabled and unable to earn a living. The Social Security disability insurance program provides benefits to “insured” individuals. To be insured, you must have paid Social Security taxes on income earned through work or self-employment for a long enough duration to have acquired work credits.
You earn work credits based on income from a job or self-employment that is subject to Social Security taxes. For 2021, you earn one credit for each $1,470 in earnings up to a maximum of four credits per year. The work credits are used to determine eligibility for Social Security retirement and disability benefits.
Supplemental Security Income is the other program that pays benefits to individuals who are blind or disabled. SSI differs from the other SSD program in not requiring a work history to qualify for benefits. It does, however, restrict benefits to individuals with limited income and financial resources. For example, if the value of resources available to you exceeds $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple, you may not qualify for Social Security disability benefits through the SSI program.
When does disability convert to regular Social Security?
If you receive disability benefits based on your work history, your SSD payments for disability convert to regular Social Security when you reach full retirement age. It is an automatic conversion, so there is nothing that you have to do.
Full retirement age is not, as many people believe when you are 65 years old. If you had dreams of retiring at 65, you will have to wait a little longer to reach full retirement age. The full retirement age for people born in 1960 and later is 67 years of age. If you were born in 1959, you qualify for full retirement when you reach 66 years and 10 months.
The conversion to retirement benefits happens automatically, and you should not see any change in the amount of the monthly payment received from Social Security. You may not experience any change in your medical insurance coverage when you reach full retirement age.
If you had been receiving SSD benefits for more than 24 months, you qualified for Medicare Part A hospital insurance. The coverage continues uninterrupted when your benefits for disability convert to Social Security retirement benefits, but you have the option to add other coverages, such as Medicare Part B medical insurance, by paying the premium associated with it.
It is important to note that this discussion about disability benefits converting to Social Security retirement only applies when you receive disability through SSD. Benefits paid through SSI continue for as long as you qualify for them without converting at retirement age. If you qualified for both SSI and SSD, your SSD converts to retirement benefits while SSI payments continue unchanged.
Early retirement and Social Security disability benefits
You have the option to take early retirement at 62 years of age, but the amount you receive each month in retirement benefits is less than you would have received by waiting until full retirement age. If you take early retirement before applying for SSD benefits, it could affect how much you receive in benefits depending on whether the onset date of disability was before or after you took early retirement.
If you are at or approaching early retirement age and considering applying for it and SSD, you should first talk to a disability attorney. The attorney can review your medical history and help you to plan a course of action to prevent an unnecessary loss or reduction of benefits.
Getting help from a disability attorney
Social Security disability benefits are too important to risk by handling them on your own. A skilled and knowledgeable disability lawyer at NY Disability has the experience to assist you with initial applications, appeals of denied claims, and other matters related to Social Security disability programs.