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Is there an age limit for SSDI and SSI benefits?

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Q:

Is there an age limit for SSDI benefits?

A:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are offered to workers who are 100% disabled for at least 12 continuous months and WHO are unable to work.

Age Requirement for SSDI Benefits

In addition to work and disability requirements, Social Security Disability Insurance is also only paid to qualifying workers who have worked and earned sufficient work credits to qualify. The amount of work credits varies by age, but if a worker does not have enough work credits, they will automatically be denied SSDI benefits based on their work record.

For this reason, there is generally an age below which most applicants do not qualify for SSDI benefits simply because they have not worked and earned enough work credits, not because of an age requirement.

For example, in 2016, workers can earn one credit for each $1,260 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. If a worker becomes disabled before they are 24 years of age, they will need six credits to qualify, three of which must have been earned before they became disabled.

So it’s not impossible for a young worker to receive SSDI benefits. It is just less likely because unless they were a child actor or working somewhere prior to the age of 16, it’s tough to generate that much income.

Age Requirements for the Elderly

Older workers who are receiving SSDI benefits, or who are considering applying for SSDI benefits, will reach an age where they no longer qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.

This seems to be a bit confusing for some SSDI applicants and SSDI recipients, but the bottom line is that if you have reached your full retirement age, you cannot receive both SSDI and retirement benefits.

Workers who are currently receiving SSDI benefits at the time of their retirement do not lose their benefits, but their benefits are converted into SSA retirement benefits. Workers will not, however, receive both SSDI and SSA retirement benefits at the same time.

If you are considering filing for SSDI benefits, and you are close to your full retirement age, you also have another consideration: whether or not to take an early retirement benefit or whether to apply for SSDI benefits.

This decision should not be made without talking to the SSA and determining your early retirement payout and comparing this to your estimated disability benefits. In many cases, the disability benefits will be higher, which might be reason enough to file for disability benefits.

The downside, however, is that disability benefits are not guaranteed. Although you will have a greater chance of approval because you are over the age of 55, and will generally have an easier time proving that you cannot retrain for new work, the disability application and approval process can be very tedious and it can take months before your receive your first disability check.

SSDI Adult Child Disability Benefits

It’s important to address one exception to the information provided above. In some cases, a disabled person who is receiving SSDI benefits will have a child who is disabled or who becomes disabled prior to the age of 22.

If this occurs, the SSA allows this child to receive auxiliary benefits and continue to receive these SSDI benefits even after they become an adult (assuming they remain disabled). The SSDI benefits are paid to the disabled child (who is now an adult) even though that child never worked or earned work credits to be insured on their own work record. This benefit is referred to as an “adult child” disability benefit.

Adult child disability benefits continue to be paid to the disabled “child” even after they reach the age of maturity. In fact, benefits will continue until the SSA determines that the “child” is no longer disabled, the recipient starts working and making too much money, or the recipient reaches their full retirement age.

SSI and Age

If you do not qualify for SSDI benefits, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income or SSI benefits. SSI is wage assistance provided to the aged (65 years or older), the blind, or the disabled who are unable to work and who also have limited income and resources.

Unlike SSDI benefits, however, which is only offered to claimants who have worked and earned work credits, SSI benefits are offered to claimants of all ages. In fact, SSI is awarded to babies with severe health conditions and older individuals who cannot work.

Can I lose my SSI benefits when I become an adult?

There is another consideration for young SSI recipients. Depending on their age, SSI applicants are evaluated for SSI based on criteria developed for a child or for an adult. SSI recipients who received SSI benefits as a child are often surprised that when they reach 18 years of age, their disability benefits are re-evaluated under the adult disability requirements.

Although some SSI recipients will continue to receive SSI benefits after they turn 18 years of age, a significant number of SSI recipients do lose their benefits.

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