If you are in the process of a divorce and are worried how your disability benefits will change, our Detroit disability attorneys can help. Generally speaking, a divorce can change your disability benefits for the worse if you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) through your spouse, but they can also change for the better if you’re on Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSI Disability Benefits
If you’re currently receiving SSI disability benefits and you file for divorce, you might actually see your payments increase since SSI is a need-based benefit. Both the amount of your monthly SSI check and your eligibility for SSI are calculated based on the amount of resources available to you, including a portion of your spouse’s contribution toward your living expenses as well as his or her income. However, keep in mind that if you receive alimony or spousal support following your divorce, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will view this amount as part of your unearned, countable income toward your SSI limit, and the SSA will use it to determine whether your SSI payment should change.
SSDI on Your Own Work Record
On the other hand, if you receive SSDI based on your own work history, your payments are not likely to change following a divorce because the amount of your payment is based on your work history alone, not your spouse’s. However, if you receive SSDI and you are ordered to pay child support or alimony after a divorce, a part of your benefits might be seized to satisfy those obligations. As most Detroit disability attorneys will tell you, whether a divorce affects your Social Security benefits will depend on the type of benefits you are actually receiving.
If you were the recipient of a spouse’s benefit while you were married, this payment should not stop following a divorce unless:
- You get remarried;
- You were married for 10 years or less;
- You become entitled to a larger SS benefit under your own work history.
Instead of changing, your payments will continue as a divorced spouse’s benefit.
Divorced Spouse’s Benefit
You might be entitled to start collecting dependent SS benefits based on your ex-spouse’s SS work record if you weren’t already receiving his or her SS benefit. However, according to professional Detroit disability attorneys, you must meet the following criteria:
- You are unmarried;
- You are at least 62 years of age;
- You were married to your spouse for at least 10 years;
- You are not entitled to a larger SS benefit under your own work record.
Of course, these benefits are only available to you if your ex-spouse qualifies for retirement benefits or SSDI disability benefits. If he or she has not yet applied, you are still eligible to receive your current benefits provided it has been at least 24 months since your divorce and both you and your spouse are at least 62 years of age.
Father’s or Mother’s Benefit
These benefits do not depend on whether you remain married to a retired or disabled spouse who is currently receiving SS benefits. In addition, if you decide to remarry later in life, this decision will not affect your right to father’s or mother’s benefits. Here’s how you can qualify:
- You care for a minor child under the age of 16 of the ex-spouse or spouse who qualifies for SSDI; or
- You care for a disabled child over the age of 22 of the ex-spouse or spouse who qualifies for SSDI provided the child was disabled before the age of 22.
As long as you have a child who meets one of the above qualifications, you will continue to receive father’s or mother’s SS benefits.
Divorced Spouse’s Survivors Benefit
You might still be eligible for disability benefits if your ex-spouse dies if he or she was fully insured for the SS benefits and you meet these requirements:
- You have not remarried;
- You are not entitled to a larger benefit under your own SS word record;
- You are at least 50 years old and disabled or 60 years of age;
- You were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years.
It is important to note that if you remarried after the age of 50 and were disabled at the time of the remarriage or if you remarried after the age of 60, the SSA will disregard the marriage, and you will be entitled to benefits as long as you meet the other above requirements.
What Happens If You Remarry
In most situations, Detroit disability attorneys will tell you that you will lose your SS benefits if your current SS benefits were based on your ex-spouse’s work history and you marry someone else, unless your subsequent marriage ends by divorce, death, or annulment. On the other hand, your benefits may be continued if your new spouse is deemed eligible for survivor’s benefits or certain auxiliary SS benefits. Keep in mind that if you remarry and your ex-spouse is receiving benefits based on your work record, his or her benefits nor the benefits available to your other dependents will be affected.
Contact Our Experienced Detroit Disability Attorneys Today
If you are going through a divorce and you have questions or concerns about how the process will affect your benefits, call Marc J. Shefman today at (248) 298-3003 to speak with one of our professional Detroit disability attorneys.