What Happens To Social Security Disability Benefits After Divorce?

This question was recently asked: "What Happens To Social Security Disability Benefits After Divorce?"

Social Security Disability benefits for a disabled individual will not change if they divorce their spouse. Social Security Disability benefits are based upon an individual's work activity prior to becoming disabled and have nothing to do with their spouse.

However, dependent eligibility will change for spouses who are receiving mother or father in-care benefits on the disabled person's record if they divorce. Once the 'relationship' is severed, so are the monetary benefits.

A disability claimant's natural children would continue to receive dependent benefits if their parents divorce; however any step children being paid based solely upon the disability beneficiary's marriage to their parent will also lose their monetary benefits when their parent divorces the Social Security Disability beneficiary.

If an individual is receiving SSI, a divorce could change their disability benefits because they may be able to receive their full SSI benefit if it had been reduced because of their spouse's income or benefits. However, it may not bring more money into the household overall because the SSI recipient is losing someone who was sharing household expenses.

Often, a spouse's income or benefits cause an SSI beneficiary's benefit to be reduced from the full amount. For example, if two SSI beneficiaries marry, they both cannot receive a full SSI benefit because there is a lower SSI couples benefit limit.

Additionally, SSI beneficiaries who have spouses that work may find themselves with a reduced disability monthly benefit because of their spouse's earnings. In fact, there are times when a spouse's income may make a SSI recipient ineligible for monetary disability benefits.

Actually, divorce really has very little negative effect on the benefits that Social Security or SSI disability beneficiaries receive. It only affects dependents in Social Security Disability cases and it actually might increase the amount an individual receives in Supplemental Security Income disability.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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