What Happens to My SSDI Benefits When I Get Divorced?

Divorce can impact your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in several ways. Exactly what happens when you get divorced depends on several factors, including whether you receive benefits based on your own earnings record or on your spouse’s, your age and how long you were married.

If you receive SSDI benefits on your own work record

Your benefits will not be affected by divorce if you receive the benefits based on your own work record. If you are required to pay spousal maintenance or child support, some of your benefits may be garnished to pay those obligations.

How does divorce affect benefits for your former spouse?

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse may qualify for SSDI benefits on your work record. To qualify on your record, your former spouse must have been married to you for at least ten years and be at least 62 years old, currently unmarried, and unable to qualify for an equal or higher benefit on his or her own or someone else’s Social Security record.

Your former spouse can be younger than age 62 if he or she is caring for your child who is under age 16 or disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. After the child turns 16 their benefits will continue, but the former spouse’s benefits will end.

What if you were receiving benefits based on your former spouse’s work record?

If your spouse was the primary wage earner in your household and you are at least 62 years old, then you might qualify to receive a divorced spouse benefit on your ex’s work record, rather than your own. The maximum amount of benefits you would be eligible to receive is 50 percent of the benefit amount to which your spouse is entitled at full retirement age.

There are other factors that can have an impact on your SSDI benefits when you get divorced. It is important that you keep the Social Security Administration (SSA) informed of life changes that may influence your benefits. If you are planning to divorce, you can discuss your plans with your Social Security disability attorney to get an idea of how it will affect your income. Contact the Bristol, Tennessee law firm of Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.