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Going through a substantial life change like a divorce is already stressful enough without needing to worry about losing your Social Security disability benefits. However, many who receive disability benefits do not know how their recent divorce will impact them. The effect divorce has on your SSDI benefits depends on how you were receiving benefits – whether they were dependent benefits, based on your own Social Security work record, or it was through the SSI program. Keep reading to learn the different ways in which divorce can alter your benefits.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits

Those who receive SSI benefits might actually see their payments increase following a divorce. These benefits are need-based and calculated based on the resources available to you, including your spouse’s income. Without your spouse’s income, your resources will decrease, potentially qualifying you for higher payments. Bear in mind, however, that any alimony you receive will be considered countable income and can also alter your benefits.

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SSDI on Your Own Work Record

If you receive SSDI based on your own work history, your payments won’t be affected by your divorce. This is because the amount of the disability payment is based on your work history, not your spouse’s. Your benefits may be garnished, however, if you must begin paying alimony or child support. Whether or not your Social Security dependents’ benefits will be changed because of the divorce depends on the sort of benefits you receive.

  • Spouse’s Benefit: If you were 62 years old or older and received a spouse’s benefit while you were married, your payments will continue as a divorced spouse’s benefit. The payment will only stop if you were married for fewer than ten years, got remarried, or you are entitled to a larger benefit because of your own work record.
  • Divorced Spouse’s Benefit: Even if you were not receiving a spouse’s benefit before, you may be able to begin collecting a divorced spouse’s benefit. You will be able to start collecting benefits based on your ex’s Social Security work record if you were married to them for at least ten years, you’re currently unmarried, you’re at least 62 years old, and you are not entitled to a larger benefit based on your own record. These benefits are only available if your spouse qualifies for SSDI disability benefits. You may still be eligible for this benefit if it has been at least two years since the divorce and both you and your ex-spouse are at least 62.
  • Mother’s or Father’s Benefit: These benefits don’t depend on whether or not you remain married to a disabled or retired spouse who receives SSI benefits, nor if you get remarried. You will qualify for these benefits if you care for a child of the spouse or ex-spouse who qualifies for SSDI.
  • Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit: You might still be eligible for benefits if your ex-spouse dies and they were fully insured for Social Security benefits. To receive these benefits, you must have been married for ten years, haven’t remarried, you’re not entitled to a more substantial benefit, and you are at least 50 and disabled.

For more information on how getting a divorce can impact your disability benefits, reach out to us at DisABLEd Workers.