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How long will my Social Security benefits continue after my disability begins?

By / February 18, 2018 / After You’re Approved for Social Security Disability & SSI / 32 Comments

Get an answer to the question “How long will my Social Security benefits continue after my disability begins?” and learn why disability benefits stop.

How Long Social Security Benefits Continue
Once approved for disability, people often wonder, “How long will my Social Security benefits continue?” The answer is three fold: First, if you recover from your disability, your benefits will terminate. Second, if you are working performing substantial gainful activity (SGA), your benefits will end when you have used up all of Social Security’s several return-to-work incentives, which total three years and nine months. If your benefits do not stop because you have recovered medically or perform SGA after you have run out your work incentive periods, your disability benefits will continue until your Social Security Normal Retirement Age (SSNRA) at which time they will change to retirement benefits.

Moving from Disability to Retirement
Your Social Security Normal Retirement Age falls between age sixty-six and sixty-seven, depending upon the year you were born. If you are still getting disability benefits when you reach your SSNRA, as stated, your benefits will change from disability benefits to retirement benefits. Conveniently, you do not have to file a Social Security Retirement application. When you reach Normal Retirement Age, you will automatically be switched to retirement benefits.

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The amount of your retirement benefit at your SSNRA will be the same as your disability benefit if you did not receive reduced early retirement benefits before receiving disability benefits. For example, if you took early retirement at age sixty-two and became disabled five months before age sixty-two, when you were approved for disability your disability benefits would begin at age sixty-two and your reduced retirement reduction would be taken off the books because all your retirement benefits were changed to disability at age sixty-two.

In contrast, if you did take early retirement before the first month for which disability benefits were paid, your benefit at SSNRA would be less than your disability benefit, but more than your previous reduced retirement. The amount of reduction will depend on how many months of reduced retirement were paid before disability entitlement. Let’s say that in the example above your disability benefits began at age sixty-three. If so, your retirement reduction factor would be twelve months of reduced retirement when you reached full retirement age.

For a discussion of the many work-incentive programs offered by Social Security, including some with extended payment, please see our article Can I Keep Getting Benefits When I Am Working on Social Security Disability? For more information about substantial gainful activity, see What Is Disability According to Social Security Disability Law?

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How long will my Social Security benefits continue after my disability begins?
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