Divorce and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Submitted by Shane on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 16:03

Many factors affect a person’s disability benefits. This can include a person’s income, financial resources, employment history, and even their marriage. Today’s blog question came to us through our interactive disability forum and deals with divorce and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you have a question you’d like us to answer, leave it in the comment section below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter. Today’s question is:

I am receiving SSDI benefits. Will getting divorced affect my payments?

If you receive SSDI benefits based on your own earning’s record, your benefit will not be affected by divorce. If, however, you are ordered to pay child support or alimony, a portion of your benefit may be garnished to fulfill those responsibilities.

If you are receiving SSDI auxiliary benefits, there are different ways in which your payments could be affected by divorce. These are explained below:

Spousal Benefits- If you were receiving spousal benefits while you were married, your payments will not be affected unless you were married for less than ten years, you get remarried, or you become eligible to receive a larger Social Security payment under your own record.

Divorced Spousal Benefits-If your ex-spouse qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance, you may be eligible to receive divorced spouse’s benefits. This is the case if:

  • You were married to the person for over ten years;
  • You are at least 62 years old;
  • You are currently unmarried; and
  • You are not eligible for a larger Social Security payment on your own record.

Survivor’s Benefits- If your ex-spouse is deceased you may be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits on his or her record. To do so, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were married to your ex-husband or wife for at least ten years;
  • You are at least 50 years old and disabled or over 60;
  • You have not remarried; and
  • You are not eligible to receive a larger Social Security payment on your own record.

Parental Benefits- If you are caring for an ex-spouse’s child and he or she is younger than 16 or disabled, you may be eligible to receive auxiliary benefits. These will not be affected by divorce or remarriage. These benefits will continue to be paid until your child becomes ineligible.

If you plan to get divorced, it is important that you contact the Social Security Administration and let them know about the changes in your life. This will allow them to make any necessary adjustments and will prevent any unnecessary complications.

Note that this article is only directed toward those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be affected differently.

Blog comments

Liza (not verified)

I receive SSDI based on my own work history. I am 63. Can I receive any additional payments based on my ex-husband's social security benefit that he receives? We were married for 30 years. I was 61 at the time of divorce.

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 15:41 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Liza (not verified)

Hi Liza,
You could if you did not remarry since the divorce. If his payment is more than twice as high as yours, receiving auxiliary benefits as an ex spouse may be a higher paying option that's available for you.

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 09:39 Permalink
Lisa (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

Are you sure? All I've read is that I have to be 62. It wouldn't be fair to base it on my income because I stayed home 10 years raising our children and when I went back to the work force I made less than half what I was making and got laid off.

Mon, 09/25/2017 - 04:34 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Liza (not verified)

I was married when I filed for my disability. He left in April of 2000 and 15 before my disability went through am I entitled to a larger amount since we have been separated and divorced

Fri, 03/24/2017 - 21:28 Permalink
Debbie Holsten (not verified)

In reply to by Liza (not verified)

I have received SSDI since 2012. I was divorced in 1998 after having been married for 20 yrs. my ex told me I can start receiving half of his benefits in 2020. Will I still be able to receive my SSDI? It is much lower than his social security

Sat, 06/10/2017 - 18:58 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by Debbie Holsten (not verified)

Hi Debbie,
You may be eligible to receive benefits based off of his work record, however you would be able to receive either your benefit or his benefit, whichever is higher.

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 15:35 Permalink
crystal (not verified)

In reply to by Bryan

I was married over 10 years- im now on ssi and my exhusnand is on disability - he gets a much higher amount than i do- I was told i wasn't allowed to get benefits based on his work record which is a higher amount than mine
Do you know why that would be?
thank you

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 05:03 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by crystal (not verified)

Hi there,
If you do not meet these criteria:
You were married to the person for over ten years;
You are at least 62 years old;
You are currently unmarried; and
You are not eligible for a larger Social Security payment on your own record... You would not be eligible for benefits.

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 09:08 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by Patricia Hayes (not verified)

Hi Patricia,
You may be eligible if:
You were married to the person for over ten years;
You are at least 62 years old;
You are currently unmarried; and
You are not eligible for a larger Social Security payment on your own record.

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 14:50 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by Cassandra Stitts (not verified)

Hi Cassandra,
You may be able to do so if:

You were married to the person for over ten years;
You are at least 62 years old;
You are currently unmarried; and
You are not eligible for a larger Social Security payment on your own record.

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 16:46 Permalink
Tyler (not verified)

My parents are seperated. My mom is about to get her ssdi for the past 8 years. Does my dad qualify for any of the back pay since he supported her for that time?

Sun, 12/06/2015 - 14:22 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Tyler (not verified)

Hi Tyler,
No, probably not. But if they were married for more than 10 years and you are under age 16, or if he's age 62+, or if he's age 50 and disabled, he could qualify for auxiliary benefits under her account.

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 13:11 Permalink
Traci (not verified)

I have been married for 15 years, my husband and I both receive disability and he wants to divorce me. His benefits are three times my own five hundred a month, leaving me with a child and no living wage. We just received news that I am becoming paralyzed on one side and he won't deal with it. I am 44, do I have any right to part of his benefit? My daughter is not his, she will be eighteen soon.

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 01:58 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Traci (not verified)

Hi Traci,
Unfortunately not. Because your child is not his and she's too old, you cannot claim 50% of his benefits. At age 50, assuming you have not remarried, you can be eligible for up to 50% of his payments.

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 13:12 Permalink
kimmiet39 (not verified)

In reply to by Traci (not verified)

1) You can make it part of your divorce papers, that he must pay you x amount of money each month, not undER soc.sec., but under spousal support, for you as his wife, and you should check in to see for child support too, since she depend on him for daily living expenses. Ask you divorce lawyer hun, he works for you, n yiu can ask for whatever you want. He counters it, n you try compromise fairly. 2nd, your soc sec. benefits are determined by household income, same for food n med benefits.... so you should let them know ASA he moves out, hogs his money, etc. You won't need a lawyer for that either, they will adjust it ASA you notify them. If your child is still in school, she may also be considered in determining the amount. You prob already know, but you can google any question n get instant response. Ask the question differently to see other responses. I've google off the wall stuff, n always turns out someone already asked it too, lol. Hope this helps. Soc sec website also has everything you may have questions about. Write it down n include w anything you do in writing or faxing or going in & giving them papers. Always always make a copy too, you are not guaranteed the originals back. They will give you specific & most accurate info. Take care, you can do this, you've been strong enuff so far sweetie, having freedom trumps waking up sad w someone you don't want to be with, I'm looking forward to that day myself. :) When one door closes, many open, it's a popular saying for a good reason. You will be okay, if you get too sad, check in with your doctor, divorce is bittersweet, worrying about survival n paying bills, is horrific. .... and crazy emotions is normal but situational, it won't be this way forever, and docs are fully familiar, so don't be afraid to ask for their help. One last tip, if he's already being this ugly, don't tip off your hand, don't argue the point, pick your wars girl, and it will go more smoothly. The ideal thing to do, if possible, is not to engage unless you have to. If you are still in love, just give it some time... human nature, after being a part of each others lives so long, is to first miss the companionship, friendship, things yall did as a team. .. and true love, finds its way back more than you think. Breaks are always good, gives each other time to miss n appreciate one another. God has a plan for each of us, I have to believe that or loose my sanity worrying otherwise.

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 21:47 Permalink
Eric

In reply to by Andrea (not verified)

Hi Andrea,

You could be eligible to receive benefits from his SSDI. However, I couldn't accurately say if you could qualify or not from his UPS pension.

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 09:15 Permalink
Jackie (not verified)

I have a question. Can I apply for benefits already for my son with autism, even if i am not legally divorced yet? In the past, he did not qualify based on my husbands income. So my question is weather i have to wait till im divorced to reapply even though we are separated and not luving in the same household. I have a part time job and with that i pay all of our bills. Until i get a full time job, my husband has agreed to pay our mortgage payment.

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 10:31 Permalink
Misti (not verified)

In reply to by Jackie (not verified)

I am recently divorced, recieve child support and alimony. My ex is encouraging me to apply for benefits for our 16 1/2 year old who has autism and mental health diagnoses. He thinks because our income is now separate that he will qualify. Don't they base it on both parents income?

Wed, 02/01/2017 - 14:41 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by Misti (not verified)

Hi Misti,
Yes, the determination is based on what the SSA assigns as income to the child based on their parent's income, regardless of marital status.

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 09:41 Permalink
Mike overseas (not verified)

Hi - and thanks for your help! My spouse has SSDI and we have recently separated and will soon divorce. we wont have been married 10 years before the divorce. She is currently collecting $ for our two minor children (7&5). The children live with me full time. My question is what must she report to SS? and when she does report our new status will they take away the kids money? If they take away the kids portion would that just go away or would come back to me? thank you!

Tue, 12/15/2015 - 17:34 Permalink
Shareefah (not verified)

I'm currently my husband's payee but we're thinking about getting a separation because it affects me working. If we separate will he need a new payee or can I still be his payee without it affecting me working?

Sat, 12/19/2015 - 11:43 Permalink
Eric (not verified)

My wife and I are both getting SSDI. My apyment is very, very low, under $400 a month. We are now separated,going on two months, though I hope it doesn't end in divorce. We live in separate homes now. Can I get an increase so I can get an apartment and not have to sleep on my mother's sofa? Or get SSI?

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 00:32 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Eric (not verified)

Hi Eric,
You cannot get an SSDI increase because SSDI is based on how much you worked and earned through paying taxes. You can get SSI benefits, but only if your SSDI payment is less than $733 per month.

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 09:59 Permalink
Terri (not verified)

I receive social security disability. My child has been receiving si since age 18 can she receive benefits from my social security also?

Sun, 12/27/2015 - 14:49 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Terri (not verified)

Hi Terri,
Did you mean SSI? If so and she is disabled, then yes. If you are receiving SSDI benefits she could be eligible for up to 50% of your payments, assuming she isn't married.

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:00 Permalink
Terri (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

My daughter is divorced. She is unable to care for herself and is in and out of hospitals. Does she have to live with me? How do I find out more information about this?

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 12:05 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by Terri (not verified)

Hi Terri,
She does not necessarily have to live with you to receive a portion of your benefits. You should call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to learn a little more about your options.

Wed, 12/30/2015 - 09:33 Permalink
tony (not verified)

In reply to by Deanna

OK I been married for 20 years to my x wife and I just became disabled and she has worked 18 years longer than I have and I am 47 is it possible for me to claim off here's if hers is higher? ?

Sat, 08/27/2016 - 10:58 Permalink
Bryan

In reply to by tony (not verified)

Hi Tony,
Under certain circumstances you may be able to collect based off of your ex-spouse's work record, if you are entitled to a larger amount under theirs than your own work record.

Mon, 08/29/2016 - 09:20 Permalink
MrsT (not verified)

My husband just got on disability and has two children with ex-wife on disability now for years. One lives with her but is 18 and other lives with us. How are benefits determined. Which parents benefits do they receive?

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 16:43 Permalink
Deanna

In reply to by MrsT (not verified)

Hi there,
I believe they will receive benefits under the highest-earning account. If the 18 year old is with you, he or she will become ineligible once he/she is finished with high school, or is over age 19, whatever comes first.

Tue, 12/29/2015 - 10:01 Permalink

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