Written by: Bruce L. Weider | 7.13.2023

Navigating Divorce And Social Security Disability: What You Need To Know

Divorce can impact all aspects of your life. What many may fail to realize is that it can even affect Social Security benefits. However, how these benefits will be impacted will depend on numerous factors. Before making any financial decisions regarding Social Security disability benefits following a divorce, consider discussing these issues with an experienced attorney from the law firm of Bruce L. Weider, PC, by calling (734) 485-0535. Our knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney can walk you through the issues related to divorce and Social Security disability benefits and help you figure out the options you have.

Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), when you begin to receive disability benefits, specific members of your family who may also qualify for these benefits. These may include your:

  • Spouse
  • Minor children
  • An adult child who was disabled before the age of 22, and a
  • Divorced spouse

While each of these family members may be able to receive a monthly benefit, there are limits to the amounts in each case. The total will usually depend on the amount of the benefit and the number of eligible family members.

How Does Divorce Affect Certain Types of Social Security Benefits?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits may go up when you and your partner divorce. When this happens, it is usually because these benefits are need-based, meaning your monthly check is based on a number of factors, among them your spouse’s income and contributions toward certain expenses. Consequently, if your previous stipend was calculated based on spousal income that will no longer be available to you for support, then following a divorce your SSI payments may go up.

Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits Based on Your Work

If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) due to your work, your benefits should not be impacted by divorce since these payments depend on your own work records and not those of your spouse. Yet, if you are receiving these disability benefits and are required to pay child support or alimony after a divorce, some of the payments may be seized to satisfy these obligations.

The Benefits That Apply to Your Spouse

Whether a divorce will impact your dependent's benefits will usually depend on the Social Security benefits you were receiving. To illustrate using a common scenario, if you received a spouse’s benefit while you were together since you were over the age of 62, this benefit should continue even if you get divorced, except in the following circumstances:

  • You get remarried
  • You were not married for over ten years
  • You become eligible for a greater Social Security benefit based on your own work history

To figure out which benefits apply to your situation and how to update any paperwork, consider discussing the matter with a lawyer from Bruce L. Weider, PC, who can review with you what you need to know about divorce and Social Security disability benefits.

The Benefits That Apply to a Divorced Spouse

If you were not getting a spouse’s Social Security benefit, you can still collect dependent Social Security benefits if you can meet the below requirements:

  • You are a minimum of 62 years of age
  • You are not married
  • You were in a marriage to your ex-partner for a minimum of ten years, and
  • You will not obtain more considerable Social Security benefits based on your own work history

These benefits will only be accessible if your ex-partner is eligible for retirement benefits or SSDI disability benefits. If they have not yet filed for these benefits you may still be able to receive benefits, if it has been a minimum of two years since the divorce and you and your previous partner are over the age of 62.

A Divorced Spouse’s Survivor Benefits

If your former spouse passes away, you can still be able to receive disability benefits. However, your former spouse must have been eligible for Social Security benefits, and you:

  • Are at a minimum of 60 years old or 50 and are disabled
  • Were in a marriage with your previous partner for at least ten years
  • Are not independently eligible for greater Social Security benefits
  • Are not married

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), if you remarry after you turn 60 (or 50 if disabled), the marriage should not affect your survivor benefits. In comparison, if you remarry before reaching that age, you may lose eligibility for these benefits. Or, if you were already getting these benefits, they will stop when you get remarried. To regain these survivor benefits based on the previous marriage, your subsequent marriage must end through either annulment, death, or divorce.

How Much Will a Divorced Spouse Receive?

An ex-spouse may receive up to one-half of the amount of a person’s retirement benefits. This amount received will typically be lower for former spouses who have not yet reached full retirement age. In comparison, survivor benefits are calculated differently. A surviving divorced spouse’s benefits are usually higher and vary between 75 percent and 100 percent. This specific amount will usually depend on a divorced spouse’s age and whether they care for their ex-spouse’s minor or disabled children. Benefits to a surviving divorced spouse are never lowered because of a family benefit maximum.

For further information regarding these amounts, contact a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney. These legal professionals can review your specific situation and explain what options you have regarding these benefits and the actions you should take next.

Review Your Options With an Experienced Social Security Benefits Attorney

Divorce is already a stressful time. You should not have to worry about dealing with the loss of crucial Social Security benefits on top of everything else. If you are going through a divorce and want further information regarding Social Security disability benefits, consider contacting a knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer from the law firm of Bruce L. Weider, PC, by calling (734) 485-0535 to schedule your free initial consultation. Our legal team can go over everything you need to know about divorce and Social Security disability benefits and help you understand your legal options so that you can determine your best path forward.

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