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How do SSD benefits change when one reaches retirement age?

Many recipients of Social Security disability benefits in Missouri have been out of the workforce for many years. Because they are unable to earn an income, they may depend on SSD benefits to make ends meet. Therefore, as they near the retirement age for Social Security retirement benefits, they may be concerned about the amount of benefits they receive being reduced or eliminated entirely.

This is because to calculate Social Security retirement benefits, the Social Security Administration considers a person's past 35 years' work history. If a person hasn't worked for that long, the SSA will enter zeros for those years when calculating benefits. For those on SSD who haven't worked for many years, or who were disabled for a number of years and then returned to work, it is understandable why they may be concerned that there will be a lot of zeros in their work history leading to a reduction of benefits.

However, people in this situation need not be concerned. If they are still on disability benefits when they reach the retirement age set by the SSA, their disability benefits will automatically transfer to Social Security retirement benefits. In general, the amount they receive in Social Security benefits will be the same as it was when they were receiving SSD benefits because the 35-year work history won't apply, and will only count a person's work history before they became disabled, which is how a person's disability benefits were calculated in the first place.

In addition, if a person had received benefits in the past, but at the age they retired they were working, they may qualify for a "disability freeze." If so, their zero-earning years will not count when calculating retirement benefits. This means a person who is able to recover from their disability and re-enters the workforce will not be penalized for doing so upon retirement.

So, while this post cannot guarantee what a person will receive in Social Security retirement benefits, those who currently receive disability benefits may find that these benefits remain relatively unchanged when they are changed over to Social Security retirement benefits. However, those with questions about this topic may want to make sure they seek the help they need to determine how the amount they receive in benefits will change once they reach retirement age.

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