NDA News

Divorced Spouses and Social Security Disability Benefits

If you or your ex-spouse became disabled during the course of your marriage, you may have found yourselves depending on Social Security disability benefits to get by. You may be familiar with the ways marriage affects your eligibility for specific benefits.

For example, Social Security Disability Insurance often offers extra cash payments per month for family members if you are receiving benefits based on your work history. Supplemental Security Income, a needs-based disability benefits program, will count your combined marital assets when determining if you qualify for cash payments.

If you or your ex-spouse were receiving Social Security disability benefits before the divorce, your disability benefits may be affected depending on which program was administering your benefits. If you or your ex-spouse were receiving SSDI, you may wonder if divorced spouses qualify for auxiliary benefits. If one of you was receiving SSI prior to the divorce, you may now have to account for the splitting of assets post-divorce.

Table of Contents

If I get divorced, are my Social Security disability benefits affected?

It depends on whether you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

If you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, then you may be aware of auxiliary benefits for family members. These benefits include spousal disability benefits for current spouses or ex-spouses. There is a limit placed on a combined SSDI benefit and auxiliary benefits. A divorce does not impact the limit applicable to the disability benefits you or a new spouse may receive.

If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income, marriage and divorce will affect how much you can receive in SSI benefits. Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income depends on your income and resources, the limits for which are different for single people and married couples. Your resources must be worth less than $2,000 if you are single or $3,000 if you are married. If you get divorced, your eligibility for SSI benefits will be affected by both your marital status and how resources are divided between you and your ex-spouse during the divorce.

If I apply for Social Security disability benefits, can my divorced spouse get auxiliary benefits?

Yes. Auxiliary benefits are a type of benefit members of your household may receive when you get Social Security Disability Insurance. Divorced spouses are eligible for these auxiliary benefits on your record, even if you remarry.

However, there are limits. Your divorced spouse has to have been married to you for at least 10 years, be at least 62 years old, remain unmarried, and not be eligible for equal or higher benefits on their own Social Security record or someone else’s.

If your divorced spouse also receives a pension based on work not covered by Social Security, such as government or foreign work, their auxiliary benefits may be affected.

If you get divorced, the amount of disability benefits payable to your divorced spouse has no effect on the amount of disability benefits you or your new spouse can receive.

If I get a divorce, can my disability benefits be garnished for alimony or child support?

If you get a divorce and receive Social Security Disability Insurance, your SSDI benefits may be garnished in order to collect unpaid child support and/or alimony. Your benefits are not garnished in a lump sum. Instead, a certain percentage is garnished from each monthly payment.

Supplemental Security Income cannot be garnished for alimony or child support.

If my divorced spouse died, can I collect on his or her Social Security disability benefits?

If you are a divorcee whose late ex-spouse received Social Security disability benefits, you may qualify for survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If your marriage lasted at least 10 years before your divorce and your ex-spouse’s death, you may be able to receive the same survivor benefits as that of a regular spouse. Benefits paid to you under these circumstances won’t affect the benefit amounts paid to other survivors on the deceased worker’s record.

However, remarriage may affect your eligibility for survivors benefits based on your deceased ex-spouse’s record. The exception to this is if you remarry after age 60, or if you remarry after age 50 and have a disability.

If you are caring for a disabled child under age 16 who receives child disability benefits on your deceased ex-spouse’s record, you may receive these survivor benefits even if the marriage was shorter than 10 years. In order for you to qualify for this exception, the ex-spouse has to be the child’s biological or legally adoptive parent. These benefits will affect the benefits amounts paid to other survivors on the deceased worker’s record.

Find Out If You Qualify

If you are unable or no longer able to work due to a disability, you should get
the benefits that you need. Get a free case review today.

Complete our form below or call us at 833-MY-DISABILITY .