Career Planning Succeeding at Work Work Benefits What Happens to Your Disability Benefits When You Retire By Tess Taylor Tess Taylor Tess Taylor is a certified human resource professional and career coach with 14 years of HR experience. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 13, 2022 Fact checked by Taylor Tompkins In This Article View All In This Article Disability Benefits at Retirement Age Compassionate Allowance Rule How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits How to Decide Whether or Not to Retire Early Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: Maskot/Getty Images People nearing retirement age who have already been receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) often wonder what will happen once they are eligible for retirement benefits. For many reasons, adults may suffer an illness, injury, or other medical condition that makes it impossible for them to work. In these situations, they may receive Social Security disability insurance benefits that help to pay for living expenses. They may also be eligible for Medicaid. Medicaid is a public health care program that pays for doctor’s visits, medical services, and prescription drugs. Key Takeaways Once you reach retirement age, your Social Security disability benefits will automatically switch over to Social Security retirement benefits.Compassionate Allowances could fast-track someone's disability benefits if they are approaching retirement age and have certain severe conditions.If you retire early, you may receive reduced benefits, depending on your situation. Disability Benefits at Retirement Age Social Security disability benefits will automatically switch over to Social Security retirement benefits once the individual reaches their eligible age of retirement but the amount remains the same. If they are eligible for Social Security spousal benefits, they will also receive this payment each month—however, they must apply to receive this benefit. In many cases, the monthly benefit amount received will not change, and may increase depending on how long the individual worked. Other considerations include if they currently receive a monthly pension, and how much was earned toward Social Security retirement benefits before they became disabled. Compassionate Allowance Rule There are some other, special circumstances for people who are receiving Social Security disability benefits. Under the Compassionate Allowances determination, the Social Security Administration may provide additional allowances and fast-track benefits for those who are the most disabled and meet certain medical criteria. For example, someone facing a life-threatening illness and nearing retirement age may be eligible for this determination. How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits depends on a few things. An individual must have worked for at least 10 years, and have a medical condition that is determined to be an actual disability under Social Security rules. Note A Social Security disability lawyer can help to define these factors to ensure that the individual can get this benefit, and it may take a few years to start receiving monthly disability checks. This can include a catastrophic injury or illness, a physical or mental impairment, or another medical condition that prevents one from holding meaningful employment. How to Decide Whether or Not to Retire Early If you choose to retire early at the age of 62, your retirement benefit is reduced until you reach full retirement age. If you are already receiving disability benefits, you are likely already receiving your full retirement amount. So, many people who are receiving disability benefits would receive higher payments if they chose to remain on disability instead of retiring early. Note The decision to retire is entirely up to each person. It is recommended that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney and financial advisor before taking this step. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What happens to my pension if I go on disability? Your Social Security disability benefits may be reduced if your pension is from a job that didn't pay social security taxes. Jobs that may not have paid are typically government- or nonprofit-related positions. What happens to Social Security disability when you turn 62? You can continue to receive social security benefits with no change if you do not choose to retire early. If you do choose to retire early, your benefits may be reduced. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Social Security Administration. "What You Need to Know When You Get Social Security Disability Benefits." Social Security Administration. "Compassionate Allowances." Social Security Administration. "How You Qualify | Disability Benefits." Social Security Administration. "Early or Late Retirement?" Berger and Green. "Can You Collect Social Security Retirement and Disability at the Same Time?"