Book an appointment using SetMore

The impact of divorce on spouses who receive disability payments

If you are unable to work due to an injury that you have suffered or from an illness then 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 rather low amount of assets available to you. Whether you are receiving benefits based on your own 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

If you are currently receiving supplemental security income disability benefits the payments that you receive can 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 on a monthly basis is calculated based on what your income is 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 then this monthly sum of money will be counted as unearned income by Social Security and a downward adjustment in the level of supplemental income that you receive will be made accordingly.

Receiving disability benefits based on your own work history

The payments that you receive for Social Security Disability will not be affected by your divorce if you receive the benefits based on your own work history. The reason for this is because that 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 in order to pay spousal maintenance. Let’s examine a little further just to make sure that we cover all of our bases. For starters, consider 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 a divorced. Consider whether or not you plan on getting remarried or your own 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 certain qualifications that are 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 larger disability benefit under your own 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 are able to 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 own benefits before you apyou ply for them under his or her 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 are able to apply for benefits under the name of their ex-spouse as well. It does not matter if you have remained married to the disabled spouse who is 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 in order to be awarded to benefits. The first is that you are a caretaker for a child who is between the ages of zero and 16 or if your child is over the age of 22 the disabling condition that he or she suffers from must have begun before their 22nd birthday.

Survivor’s benefits for an ex-spouse

If you divorce a person and he or she later passes away you can still potentially be eligible for benefits under their name. You must first make sure that you were married for at least ten years. In order 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 where you cannot have remarried since your divorce and must not be eligible to receive a larger disability benefit under your own name. An exception on the issue or remarriage would 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 that we have 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 go away. An exception to this general rule is if your second marriage to your original spouse ends in death or divorce.

What level of benefits are available to dependents of a disabled person?

Dependents are eligible in many cases for up to 50% of the amount of disability benefits that are received by the person who is actually disabled. However, keep in mind that Social Security will not pay an unlimited 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 can outline an example of this policy. If your ex-spouse is receiving disability benefits then you and your children would be eligible as well. Your children and you would be eligible to each receive fifty percent of those benefits for a grand total of 250%. This will not fly based on the information I laid out in the prior paragraph. What Social Security would do is apply their own internal metrics and to 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 a divorce from your spouse and social security benefits are at issue then you should consult with him or her on this specific subject. For many people these benefits can mean the difference between being able to pay 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 then 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 are able to answer your questions on the relationship between disability benefits and your divorce.

If you find yourself having any questions regarding divorce and disability please do not hesitate to contact us today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can 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.


Let's Get Started Together

Fill out the form below 
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.