DIVORCE & DISABILITY BENEFITS
DOES DIVORCE EFFECT YOUR DISABILITY BENEFITS?
Divorce can effect your Social Security benefits, but it depends on what kind of benefits the SSA is paying you. For example, you could be getting paid Social Security Disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, or you could also be receiving disability benefits on your spouse’s earnings record (dependent benefits). Each of these types of benefits has their own set of rules. Therefore, divorce impacts or doesn’t impact benefits in different ways.
Below, you will find information on how divorce impacts your SSDI and SSI benefits. If you are going through a divorce, then you have our condolences. Divorce is hard. Try to remember it happens to half of all marriages. So, you are not alone.
Next, before you make decisions about your future, be aware that you must know exactly what kind of benefit you are getting from the SSA. If you don’t know, (and many people don’t), then you may make financial decisions based on the wrong information. Your divorce attorney may not give you the correct advice if you tell them you are on the wrong type of benefit. Therefore, during a divorce, the first thing to know when making any financial decision is what type of monthly benefits you are getting from the SSA.
SSI DISABILITY BENEFITS AFTER DIVORCE
If you receive SSI benefits on a monthly basis, then you have a benefit that is based on financial need. This means that your SSI benefit can change if you your income or assets change.
Because SSI benefits are based on income, if you divorce, chances are good that your income will change. If your income and assets change, so does your monthly SSI benefit. The SSA figures out your monthly SSI check amount based on the number of resources available to you. This includes the income of your spouse and any contributions toward your living expenses, such as rent payments and your food bill.
Therefore, if your spouse’s income was making your SSI benefit lower, then your SSI payment might go up after your divorce. However, if you receive alimony after your divorce, then the SSA will count your alimony as income to you. If your alimony payment is high, then it could reduce your SSI amount. Make sure you discuss this with your family law attorney.
YOUR MONTHLY SSI BENEFIT MAY CHANGE AMOUNT AFTER YOUR DIVORCE
In order to figure out how much money you will receive, think of it this way. SSI is a set amount of money each month and the amount you actually get depends on the state where you live. However, most SSI payments do not exceed $794 per month for a single person. If you receive a state supplement, in Utah for example, then your monthly benefit might be as high as $841 per month. In California, your monthly SSI benefit in 2023 will be $914. Therefore, getting a divorce is never going to raise your monthly benefit amount higher than the federal SSI amount, plus your state supplement.
If you are married and your spouse also receives SSI benefits, then the maximum amount of SSI benefits for a couple in 2022 is $1,191 month. If you divorce, then you will receive less SSI money. Your benefit will go down to the individual monthly amount.
Make sure that you figure out your monthly SSI amount before you agree to alimony. That way you can make the best plan for yourself. Additionally, make sure you report your divorce to the SSA, so they can figure out your new SSI benefit amount.
SSDI BENEFITS ON YOUR OWN WORK RECORD
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are not need based. If you are being paid SSDI benefits on a monthly basis, then you have paid into the Social Security system by working and now you have been found disabled. The amount of your monthly SSDI benefit is based on your own work history. You can have $1 million in the bank and own two homes and it will not change the amount of your monthly SSDI payment. Therefore, even after your divorce, your monthly SSDI amount will not change.
The only thing that can really impact the amount of your SSDI payment is whether or not you owe your spouse alimony or child support. If you do not pay those bills, as the court orders after your divorce, then your SSDI benefits can be garnished to pay them. Learn more about garnishment of disability benefits for child support payments here. If you need to know more information about how marriage effect your benefits, then read here.
CONCURRENT BENEFITS – BOTH SSI AND SSDI
To make matters more confusing, many people receive two types of benefit payments at once. Many people receive both SSDI benefits and SSI payments. For example, if your SSDI payment is low, let’s say $400 a month. Then, if you qualify under the income and asset rules, you can also get a supplement from SSI payments. In the Utah example, with an SSDI payment of $400, your SSI payment would be $441 a month. The SSA payment would bring you to the full monthly SSI amount of $841 per month.
Your SSDI payment will not change after divorce, because it is based on your own work record. The amount of your SSDI is not dependent to your income and assets. However, your monthly SSI payment may change, as noted above.
MEDICARE BENEFITS & DIVORCE
Medicare is a form of health insurance that you should consider at the time of divorce. People who qualify for SSDI benefits can get Medicare benefits after a 29 month waiting period. Medicare is also for individuals and their spouses who are at least 65 and receive Social Security retirement income. This includes divorced spouses.
Medicare benefits helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical costs or most of your long-term care. Additionally, you have choices for how you get Medicare coverage. If you choose to have Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) coverage, you can buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy from a private insurance company.
Most people who get Medicare never pay a premium for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital expenses and some skilled nursing home care. Part B covers doctor visits, durable medical equipment, ambulance rides, and flu shots. Medicare Part B is affordable. It costs about $170.10 per month in 2022. Medicare Part C, is known as Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D is a prescription drug plan. If you need more information about Medicare benefits, then read here.
CAN DISABILITY BENEFITS BE DIVIDED AT THE TIME OF DIVORCE?
It is state law that governs divorces. Some states are community property states. Those states require the division of marital property on a 50/50 basis. Other states divide property using a fair distribution method. That means that the court will determine what is fair by looking at the needs of both parties in the divorce.
Social Security Disability benefits are not normally marital property. However, if you and your spouse put SSDI funds into a joint account, then it might result in those benefits being divided equally as marital property. Keep in mind that bank accounts that were clearly set up to hold SSDI, SSI, or other benefits will not be subject to division during the divorce. Additionally, when the court calculates alimony, SSDI payments will count as income. However, SSI benefits will not count as income.
DIVORCED SPOUSE BENEFITS
Even though you are divorced, you may be able to collect dependent Social Security benefits on your ex spouse’s work record. However, you must meet the following rules:
- you must have been married to your former spouse for at least ten years
- you are at least 62 years old
- you do not remarry, and
- you cannot get a higher benefit amount based on your own work record
You are only eligible for divorced spousal benefits if your ex qualifies for SSDI benefits or retirement benefits. If your ex has not yet applied for Social Security benefits, for whatever reason, you can still receive dependent benefits, as long as it has been at least two years since your divorce and you and your ex are both at least 62 years old.
DIVORCED SPOUSE’S SURVIVORS BENEFITS
Even if you divorce, you can still receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record. However, you must meet certain rules. First, your ex must have been fully insured for Social Security benefits. Second, your ex must be dead (and not at your hand!). Third, you must have been married to your ex for at least ten years. State law controls in this area. So, it is best to have an actual marriage certificate and divorce decree which documents the length of your prior marriage. Some states, however, do accept common law marriage, but the burden to prove that you held yourselves out as a married couple for 10 years or more is on you.
Fourth, you must be at least 60 years old or, you must be between the ages of 50 and 59 and found disabled. Fifth, you must not be able to get to a higher benefit based on your own earnings record. Finally, you must not have remarried.
However, if you remarried after the age of 60, or after the age of 50 and disabled at the time of the remarriage, the SSA will disregard the marriage. If they do, you can still get benefits. But, you must also meet the other rules above.
HIRE A LAWYER WITH EXPERIENCE
As you can see, divorce and Social Security benefits, as well as other types of benefits, are complex. If you are going through a divorce, you should seek the help of a family law attorney with experience. Additionally, you should hire us for help with your SSDI and SSI benefits.
If you are ready to apply for benefits, then you should hire the SSDI lawyer who will support you during the application and appeal process. You should also look for a law firm that specializes in SSD & SSI benefits like Cannon Disability Law. We want to be your legal team. The lawyers at Cannon Disability have won over 20,000 SSD cases in the last 30 years.
Your legal team should also consist of your doctors and your lawyers. For example, if you have a back condition, then hire a doctor who can perform back surgery. Similarly, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, then you should see a rheumatologist. Mental health conditions also require help from a doctor, counselor, and your SSD attorney. If you do not have a good doctor, this website has lists of free and low cost health services in different states. For example, you can find a list of free and low cost health services in California here.
This website contains a list of free and low-cost physicians and clinics in both Utah and Nevada’s free and low cost services. If you are suffering from a severe physical or mental condition, get treatment and contact us today. We can help you file an application for benefits. You can also apply for Medicaid benefits in order to get insurance coverage.
WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN BENEFITS
You do not need to try to win benefits by yourself. Cannon Disability Law can help file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. That way, you can focus on your health. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
- Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
- Read more about vocational experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. Send it in quickly. Every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits.
HIRE CANNON DISABILITY TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI & SSI BENEFITS
Contacting Cannon Disability Law is free and we do not charge an attorney fee unless we win your case. Doesn’t that sound like a relief after a divorce? Cannon Disability Law is one of the best firms in the country. We are known as one of the best Social Security Disability firms in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additionally, we are known as the top SSDI firm in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have won over $100 million in both ongoing and back benefits. Many of those SSDI and SSI cases have been for severe back conditions and chronic back pain.
The lawyers at Cannon Disability Law are also members of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives (NOSSCR). Learn more about Utah SSD benefits here. Nevada SSDI Information can also be found on this website. If you are from California, our website has California benefits information. Additionally, we have SSDI and SSI benefits information for Idaho and Colorado SSD benefits here. However, we can represent you no matter where you live.
In order to fight the SSA’s denials, you need a law firm with experience. Hire us. Dianna Cannon has been helping people who need SSDI benefits for over thirty years. Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of litigation experience. Together, we have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI hearings. You can trust us. We will do everything we can to win your benefits. Put our experience to work for you and win SSDI and SSI benefits, even if you are going through a divorce.