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

Submitted by Chris on

In a recent blog post we discussed the ways in which SSDI benefits could potentially be affected by divorce. Today we thought we would discuss the ways in which SSI benefits can be affected by divorce.

This question was sent to us on Twitter. Feel free to leave your disability benefit questions in the comment section below and we may answer them in a future blog post. Today’s question is:

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

Supplemental Security Income—or SSI—is awarded based on an individual’s financial need. To qualify, applicants must fall within the financial limits set by the SSA. These limits govern the applicant’s finances—and many times—the finances of an applicant’s husband or wife.

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) originally determined the amount of your SSI payments, it would have factored in a portion of your spouse’s income and resources. If you get divorced, your spouse’s income is no longer a factor and your award amount will have to be recalculated. Typically, this will cause your SSI payments to increase.

If, however, you are awarded alimony or spousal support, these payments will count as income. Depending on the amount of spousal support you receive, this could potentially cause your benefits to decrease. Keep in mind that if alimony payments cause your overall income to exceed the SSI eligibility limits, you could lose your benefits altogether.

If any financial deficits following your divorce require you to change your living arrangements (i.e. if you move in with a parent or adult child) your benefits may be affected. For instance if you were to move in with a parent following your divorce and do not contribute to rent or food, your SSI payments could be deducted by as much as one third.

If any changes in your income or living situation occur, you must report them to the SSA as soon as possible. You can do so by phone, mail, or in person at your local Social Security office. You have up to ten days after your divorce is final to report any changes to the SSA. If you fail to report any changes in income or living arrangements, your benefits may be terminated and you could potentially face legal repercussions. Once reported, any modifications to your benefits should take effect within two months.

Before making any decisions that could potentially jeopardize your benefits, you should always contact the SSA. A representative will be able to let you know how your benefits will be affected and will help you take the necessary steps to ensure that your benefits are not compromised.

For more information about SSI benefits, click here.

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