Divorce affects people’s lives in many different ways, but you may not realize that divorce can also affect your Social Security disability benefits. If you are a married person receiving Social Security disability benefits and are considering divorce, learn how divorce may affect your disability payments.

How will a divorce affect my Social Security disability payments?

How a divorce will affect your Social Security disability payments will depend upon whether you are receiving those payments on your own Social Security work record, your spouse’s work record, or through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Your work record

If you receive Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) based on your own work history, you will not see a change in benefits due to a divorce. These benefits will not be affected by a divorce because the amount of the payment is dependent on your work history alone and not the work history of your spouse.

The main way a divorce may affect your SSDI payments is if you are ordered to pay child support as part of your divorce. In this event, a portion of your SSDI payments may be garnished to help pay for your child support obligations.

Your spouse’s work record

If you are 62 years old or older and you have received a spouse’s benefit during your marriage, this payment should continue even upon divorce unless:

  1. you were only married for 10 years or less
  2. you remarry, or
  3. you become entitled to a greater Social Security benefit under your own work record.

The SSI Program

A person receiving SSI benefits may find that his or her SSI payments increase in the event of a divorce. This is because SSI benefits are based on need. The amount of your monthly SSI benefits is calculated on the resources available to you, including your spouse’s income and contribution to the couple’s living expenses. As a result, upon a divorce, a person’s SSI benefits may increase as the spouse is no longer contributing to the resources available to the beneficiary and the beneficiary may be in greater need.

Divorced spouse’s benefit

Even if you were not collecting Social Security disability benefits from your spouse during your marriage, you may be eligible to begin collecting dependent Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record under certain circumstances. You will qualify for these benefits if:

  1.  you were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years
  2. you are at least 62 years old,
  3. you are unmarried, and
  4. you are not entitled to a better award of benefits under your own work record

Learn how you will be affected by divorce

As we have noted above, Social Security disability benefits can be affected in a number of different ways by a divorce. If you receive Social Security disability benefits and are considering a divorce, talk to an experienced Social Security disability attorney to find out more about how a divorce will affect your personal disability benefits.