I’m on SSI – What Happens When I Turn 62?

Q: Can the federal government force me to file for Social Security retirement benefits when I turn 62 if I’m currently receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

A: The answer is yes, but there are certain factors that come into play which determine whether or not your SSI benefits will in fact be replaced by early retirement benefits when you turn 62. Keep reading to learn more about the details surrounding disability benefits and Social Security.

A man in a suit holds onto the hand of a clock which stands in front of a large Social Security card.

Who Can Receive Retirement Benefits?

It’s not uncommon for people to be confused by the differences surrounding Social Security Disability benefit programs, Social Security retirement benefits, and the eligibility requirements.

When people think about Social Security benefits, most think about retirement. In order to collect Social Security retirement benefits, you must meet the proper criteria. Retirement benefits are payable to people who have paid Social Security taxes and earned sufficient work credits throughout their lifetime.

The earliest age you can access retirement benefits is 62. Many people defer applying for early retirement because the monthly benefits stipend grows the longer you delay accepting payments.

What Type of Benefits Do You Have?

Beyond the retirement benefits program, the federal government also offers disability benefits for people who are or become disabled. These include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI is only awarded to individuals with recent work credits who are under age 65, and suffer from a qualifying physical or mental disability. SSI is a strictly needs-based assistance program for individuals with qualifying physical or mental disabilities who have limited income and resources. You do not need to have ever worked in your lifetime to receive SSI.

Sometimes, if an SSDI applicant does not have enough recent work experience to qualify, they may qualify for SSI benefits if they meet the low income limits.

When Does Social Security Disability Convert to Retirement Benefits?

If you don’t opt for early retirement, the age at which you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits depends on your birth year. For example, if you were born between 1943-1954, you will automatically start receiving full retirement benefits at age 66 (your full retirement age). This is when your SSDI benefits will switch over to retirement benefits.

What Happens to My SSI When I Turn 62?

The earliest age you can receive retirement benefits is age 62, but these are not full retirement benefits. SSI benefits will not convert to Social Security retirement benefits when a person reaches early retirement age if they aren’t eligible to receive retirement benefits.

Will My SSI Change When I Turn 62 if I Qualify for Retirement Benefits?

If someone is collecting SSI, they are required to file for any other benefit programs they may be eligible for before SSI income will be paid. In the case of a disabled individual with prior work credits who was denied SSDI but granted SSI, they will be required to file for retirement benefits at the earliest age of eligibility.

If the retirement benefits amount to less than their current SSI payments, the applicant may be able to supplement their retirement income with SSI benefits. However, the total benefit amount must not exceed the maximum allowable payment under the SSI program.

What Happens to SSDI Benefits When I Turn 62?

Those receiving SSDI prior to age 62 will see their SSDI benefits automatically converted to retirement benefits, with no change in the monthly payment, upon reaching their full retirement age. However, their SSDI benefits will not automatically convert to retirement benefits before they reach full retirement age, unless they choose to opt in for early retirement.

Contact Us to Speak with A Qualified Social Security Attorney in California

A qualified attorney can help you navigate the complex arena of Social Security Disability benefits. The lawyers at Peña & Bromberg have worked in Social Security Disability law, as well as Veterans Disability and Benefits law, since 1984.

We pride ourselves on being able to help people through any stage of the application or appeals process. Contact us today to request a free consultation with one of our Social Security attorneys in Fresno, CA.

We serve clients located throughout Central Valley, CA, including Oakland, Bakersfield, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, Modesto, San Francisco Bay, and more.

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