Note: We updated this article in March 2022 to reflect current Social Security Administration policies and data. A reader wrote in to let us know he’d been turned down for Social Security disability for being “too old.” His question is, “I didn’t know there was an age cut-off when I applied. At what age am I too old to qualify for Social Security disability?” Unfortunately, the real answer depends on whether or not you apply for early retirement. Here’s what you need to know about the age limit for getting Social Security disability benefits.
How Early Retirement Impacts Disability Claims
Social Security disability benefits give you the option to draw early retirement before you’re old enough to do so. Congress created this program in 1956 for employees whose health problems force them to stop working at least 12 months. The Disability Insurance (DI) trust only approves applicants age 18-65 with enough Social Security work credits to qualify. But what if you just turned 62 and applied for early retirement? Remember, SSD is essentially a way to draw early retirement because your health problems make it either difficult or impossible for you to keep working. If you’re approved for early retirement, then you cannot qualify for Social Security disability benefits. That’s because if you qualify for any Social Security benefits at all, your early retirement request will take priority. Once you start drawing early retirement, the SSA automatically denies your Social Security disability claim.
You can apply for early Social Security retirement starting at age 62. However, we recommend applying for Social Security disability instead, since you’ll get paid more if approved. If you’re younger than age 65 and want to double your chances for disability approval the first time you apply, start your free online claim evaluation now.
At What Age Are You No Longer Eligible to Apply for Social Security Disability?
Haven’t applied for early retirement, but you’re between 60 and 65 years old? Then you’re in luck! You can apply for Social Security disability up until one year reaching before your full retirement age (FRA). Typically, that means you can still get SSD benefit approval at 65, if you meet all other requirements. But once you reach your FRA, your SSD benefits automatically convert into regular Social Security retirement payments. That means any claimants age 66 and older cannot qualify for SSD, because they now qualify for regular Social Security.
Supplemental Security Income for Those Aged 65 & Older
There’s another benefit called Supplemental Security Income that people can qualify for once they’re at least 65 years old. People traditionally refer to SSI as “welfare,” and it pays no more than $841/month. Once you hit the magic age of 65, you can apply for SSI payments if:
- Your current income is less than $1,350
- You have less than $2,000 in countable assets (i.e., the balance in your bank account plus all the things you own and can easily sell for cash)
To apply for SSI, you’ll need to call your local Social Security office and speak to an agent on the phone. You can find the right number to call by visiting the SSA’s office locator page and entering your current ZIP code. Alternatively, you can also call 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, 7am-7pm EST to apply by phone.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.