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Social Security Administration

Disability Transitional Age Reform for Social Security benefits

As federal officials and lawmakers explore raising the retirement age in order to cut the federal deficit, consideration should also be given to raising the “transitional age” for disability purposes. Lawmakers and federal officials have emphasized adjusting the retirement age and delaying eligibility for SSA retirement benefits to cut the federal deficit. To my knowledge, no consideration has been given to adjusting the transitional ages used to determine eligibility for disability benefits.


The term “Transitional Age” used in this memo refers to the ages at which an individual transitions from one age category to another according to POMS.

Based on current life expectancy, the current threshold figure are archaic and require adjusting.


Congress should adjust the transitional ages used to determine eligibility for disability benefits. Support for this change is based upon changes in the work force and life expectancy (e.g.,“50 is the new 40, 60 is the new 50” ). Manual labor jobs are not the norm as they were 20 - 30 years ago. Computers, electronic devices, and internet technology (I.T.) related jobs exist today that did not exist 10 years ago. Life expectancy has increased, due in part, to the development and improvement of medical procedures and medications.


A practical policy reform would change to the transitional ages by approximately 3 years.


This change has the potential to make a significant savings to the disability program and make the Social Security program solvent.



Idea No. 16643