If you are receiving disability benefits through Social Security, what happens when you turn 62 depends primarily on which kind of disability benefits you receive. Here, we will explore what happens under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.
Under ordinary circumstances, you are eligible to apply for early retirement when you turn 62. At that age, however, you have not reached full retirement age, and full retirement age depends on your year of birth. For example, for anyone born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67.
Full retirement age is the point at which you qualify for 100% of the benefit that Social Security calculates from your lifetime earnings. Therefore, if you opt for early retirement, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced for the rest of your life. The amount your monthly benefits will be reduced by depends on the number of months that remain until you reach full retirement age.
If you are collecting SSDI benefits when you turn 62, and you decide you want to retire, you will have to actively apply for early retirement through Social Security. Then you will begin collecting retirement benefits at the permanently reduced rate. If, on the other hand, you wait until you reach full retirement age, your SSDI benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, so there is nothing additional for you to do, and your monthly benefit amount will stay the same.
Please note that when you either apply for early retirement or reach full retirement age and your disability benefits convert to retirement benefits, continuing disability reviews (CDRs) will cease. The CDRs stop because your eligibility for benefits no longer depends on whether you still suffer from a disabling condition that makes it impossible for you to work.
The situation differs if you receive SSI benefits. One of the requirements of receiving SSI benefits is that you must apply for any other cash benefits for which you might qualify. If you did not qualify for SSDI benefits originally, but you will qualify for retirement benefits, it is probably because you did not work recently enough when you applied for SSDI benefits, but you did work enough to qualify for a small retirement benefit.
If you do qualify for retirement benefits, and you currently receive SSI payments, you will be required to apply for early retirement when you turn 62. Benefits do not automatically convert, so you will have to actively apply on your own. The good news is that you can collect retirement and SSI benefits at the same time, so your monthly benefit amount will not change—it will just be a combination of SSI and retirement benefits.