If you cannot work due to an injury that you have suffered or from an illness, you may well have applied for Social Security Disability benefits. These benefits are either disability insurance benefits or supplemental income if you qualify based on having a relatively low amount of assets available to you. Whether you are receiving benefits based on your work history, your spouse's work history, or through the supplemental income program, today's blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, should be of some interest to you.
Supplemental Security Income and Divorce
Suppose you are currently receiving supplemental security income disability benefits, the payments that you receive an increase in amount after you get a divorce. The reason for this is because, as I mentioned earlier, your ability to receive social security benefits under their supplemental income plan depends on your need for the money. Whatever you receive every month is calculated based on your income and what resources are available to you for your living expenses. If you have just lost your spouse's income, your need for supplemental support has likely increased.
A factor that you should be weighing as a result of your divorce is whether or not you have been awarded spousal maintenance in your divorce. If you were, this monthly sum of money would be counted as unearned income by Social Security. A downward adjustment in the level of supplemental income that you receive will be made accordingly.
Receiving disability benefits based on your work history
Your divorce will not affect the payments you receive for Social Security Disability if you receive the benefits based on your work history. This is because the amount of the payment from Social Security depends upon your work history and has nothing to do with your spouse or their work history.
Your wages can be garnished to pay spousal maintenance. Let's examine a little further to make sure that we cover all of our bases. For starters, considering whether you and your spouse have been married for at least ten years could mean that the disability payments you were receiving could stop once you get divorced. Consider whether or not you plan on getting remarried or your benefits under your name entitle you to a larger disability payment.
Receiving disability benefits based on your ex-spouse's work history
Even if you were not receiving a disability benefit under your spouse's name when you were married, there still exists the possibility that you could do so after you have divorced your spouse. There are specific qualifications necessary to do so, however, and I am going to detail those to you all now.
You must have first been married to your spouse for at least ten years and are now sixty-two years old. Supposing that you have not remarried and are not entitled to a more significant disability benefit under your name than under your ex-spouse's, then you are eligible to receive benefits under your ex-spouse's.
The way to ensure that you can take advantage of this program is to wait at least two years from the date of your divorce to apply for benefits. It does not matter if your spouse has not yet applied for their benefits before you apyou ply for them under their name. Just as there is a requirement that you be 62 at the time of your application for benefits, your ex-spouse must also be 62.
Receiving benefits as a mother or father
Mothers and fathers of children can apply for benefits under their ex-spouse's name as well. It does not matter if you have remained married to a disabled spouse receiving the benefits from Social Security. There are two qualifications to receive disability benefits under this criteria, and one of the two must be met to be awarded benefits. The first is that you are a caretaker for a child between the ages of zero and 16, or if your child is over the age of 22, the disabling condition that they suffer from must have begun before their 22nd birthday.
Survivor's benefits for an ex-spouse
If you divorce a person and later pass away, you can still be eligible for benefits under their name. You must first make sure that you have been married for at least ten years. To apply under this program, you must either be 60 years old or at least fifty years old and be disabled. Similar restrictions as we have laid out in previous sections come into play here. Since your divorce, you cannot have remarried and must not be eligible to receive a more significant disability benefit under your name. An exception on the issue of remarriage will come if you remarried after age 60 or after age fifty if you are disabled.
Benefits go away if you do not meet all of the qualifications outlined in the prior sections of this blog. If you are divorced and are currently earning disability benefits based on your ex-spouse's work history, your remarriage will likely cause your benefits to disappear. An exception to this general rule is if your second marriage to your original spouse ends in death or divorce.
What level of benefits is available to dependents of a disabled person?
Dependents are eligible in many cases for up to 50% of the number of disability benefits received by the person who is disabled. However, consider that Social Security will not pay a total percentage of those disability benefits towards dependents. Usually, somewhere around 150% of the benefits can be paid towards your family based on the disability of an ex-spouse.
If we were to take a typical family of four, we could outline an example of this policy. If your ex-spouse is receiving disability benefits, then you and your children would be eligible as well. You and your children would be eligible to each receive fifty percent of those benefits for a total of 250%. This will not fly based on the information I laid out in the prior paragraph. Social Security would apply their internal metrics and then equally reduce each person's (wife and two children) disability benefits.
Work with your attorney on securing benefits and knowing your rights before your divorce is finalized.
If you are moving towards divorce from your spouse and social security benefits are at issue, you should consult with them on this subject. For many people, these benefits can mean the difference between paying for essential goods and services.
Be aware of the cutoff dates and limitations of receiving disability benefits under your ex-spouse's name. If you are banking on your ability to do so, you should negotiate with this in mind. You may want to negotiate for a sum of money to be paid to you upfront while you wait for the best opportunity to take advantage of your ex-spouse's work history for disability purposes.
Questions on disability benefits and divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, are thrilled that you would choose to spend some time with us reading a blog post on an important subject like this. While we do not practice Social Security Disability law, we can answer your questions on the relationship between disability benefits and your divorce.
If you have any questions regarding divorce and disability, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week to answer your questions in a free of charge consultation. Our staff and attorneys work tirelessly on behalf of our clients, and we are eager to share with you how our team can help you and your family in whatever circumstances you face.