Social Security & Disability After Divorce (2023)

How Social Security Disability Benefits Are Determined

Social Security Disability Insurance payments are based on your own work history. The amount of benefits you receive are based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began. The amount of your benefits is based on only your work history and not your spouse’s.

(Video) Social Security Divorce Benefits MADE EASY

If you are age 62 or older and married to a disabled person who receives benefits, you may be eligible to receive spouse’s benefits if your marriage was for 10 years or longer and you cannot receive a higher Social Security benefit off your own work record. You will generally continue to receive these benefits even if you divorce your disabled spouse. Getting a divorce does not cut the benefits in two. You each receive a portion of the benefits based on your ex’s record. Benefits your spouse receives based on your record do not decrease your retirement benefit.

How Will Social Security Disability and Divorce Affect My Benefits?

How your benefits will be impacted by divorce will depend on the type of benefits you are receiving and your individual situation. Because Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program, getting divorced and moving out may actually cause your benefits to actually increase.

In the case of Social Security Disability Insurance, your benefits may stay the same, decrease, or be terminated.

Will My Ex Receive My Benefits?

If your ex received benefits while you were together, he or she is still entitled to receive these benefits unless one of the following situations apply:

Your Marriage Lasted Less Than 10 Years

Individuals who were married for at least 10 years to a worker who has paid into the Social Security system follow many of the same rules as those who are still married.

(Video) Social Security and Divorce

Your Ex Gets Remarried

If you are wondering can my ex wife get my Social Security disability, the answer also depends on whether your ex gets remarried. If your spouse has remarried since your divorce, she probably will not be able to receive benefits based on your record unless she also divorces her new spouse and is otherwise entitled to benefits on your record.

Your Ex Becomes Entitled to a Larger Payment Based on Their Own Work Record

If your ex reaches age 62 and eligible for retirement benefits or is otherwise entitled to a larger payment based on their own work record, he or she will not receive payments based on your record. The Social Security Administration will determine the ex-spousal benefits and retirement benefits and pay your spouse whichever amount is higher.

Can I Receive Disability Benefits From My Ex?

If your ex receives SSDI benefits and you meet the following criteria, you may be able to receive benefits based on your ex’s record:

  • You were married for at least 10 years to your ex
  • You are at least 62 years old
  • You have not remarried someone else
  • You are not entitled to a larger payment under your own record

What If I (Or They) Get Remarried?

If you are receiving benefits based on an ex’s record and they get remarried, you will still continue to receive benefits. However, if you get remarried, benefits will stop. They will only resume if your other marriage ends in divorce, death, or annulment.

Disability and Divorce Settlement

One of the most important considerations for a person divorcing a disabled spouse is how their divorce settlement will be affected by the disability status. In equitable distribution states, courts consider the health and medical needs of the spouses when dividing property as well as determining spousal support. Both the disabled spouse and non-disabled spouse must consider how the divorce will impact their financial situation to determine what relief to try to seek through the divorce process, including the effect the divorce might have on their health insurance.

(Video) Divorced Social Security spousal rules #socialsecurity #socialsecuritybenefits #divorcedwomen #ssdi

Additionally, if disability benefits are deposited in a joint account, they may become marital property and be subject to division between both spouses, even if the benefits were only in one of the spouse’s names. This may happen when the funds are considered “commingled” where their origin cannot be easily traced. To avoid this possibility, it is better for the disabled individual to have their disability benefits directly deposited into an account only in their name where other joint funds are not stored.

Disability and Spousal Support

Another common question surrounding the issue of divorce and disability benefits is “Can I get alimony if I am on disability?” or “Can I get alimony if my husband is on disability?” The answer to both questions is “yes,” but it ultimately depends on the divorce case and the terms of your disability and divorce settlement whether spousal support will be awarded alongside disability benefits in a divorce. Spouses are usually encouraged to try to reach a fair agreement regarding the terms of their divorce, including agreements related to spousal support.

If the spouses do not agree on the terms of their divorce, the court makes these determinations. The court can order spousal support if either you or your spouse is disabled. To determine whether to award spousal support and in what amount, courts often consider such factors as:

  • The age of the spouses
  • The physical and mental health of the spouses
  • The length of the marriage
  • How property was divided
  • The custodial arrangement of any children the spouses have in common
  • The separate property of each spouse
  • The education, skills, work histories, and earning capacity of each spouse
  • The need of the spouse requesting spousal support and the ability of the other spouse to pay it

When calculating alimony payments, SSDI is counted as income while SSI is not.

Alimony & Child Support

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may be garnished to pay court-ordered child support or alimony. However, Supplemental Security Income payments cannot. Because SSI is a needs-based program that is only available to very low wage earners or those without any other income, these limited funds are not taken to provide support for others. While VA disability benefits cannot be considered when dividing marital property, they may be garnished to pay support obligations if the veteran waived a portion of retirement pay in exchange for nontaxable disability benefits.

(Video) Social Security Spousal Benefits After a Divorce

To garnish SSDI benefits, you will first need to obtain an income withholding order from a judge, which usually requires you to show that your spouse has not paid court-ordered support payments. This order is submitted to your local Social Security office, which can then take money directly out of the benefits before your ex receives them to pay the owed amount of support, subject to maximums by state and federal law.

If you are attempting to collect child support and your children are still minors, you can seek this assistance from your local child support enforcement office. If your children are not minors or you need assistance in garnishing spousal support from disability benefits, you may want to speak to a family law attorney about the process.

Can I Receive Benefits If My Ex Dies?

If you get divorced from your ex and then your ex dies, you may be able to receive benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • You were married to your ex for at least 10 years
  • You are at least 60 years old or at least 50 years old and disabled
  • You are currently unmarried or you married after age 60 or after age 50 if disabled
  • You are not entitled to a larger benefit based on your own record

Benefits paid to you as a divorced spouse do not affect payments to the widow or widower of your ex or other former spouses. The benefits that you receive as a surviving divorced spouse will not usually affect the benefit amount that other survivors receive unless your qualification is based on the worker’s child being in your care.

If you claim survivor benefits at full retirement age or older, you may receive 100% of the amount. If you claim benefits after age 60, you will receive between 71% and 99% of the benefit amount. You can opt to apply for survivor benefits at age 60 while waiting to apply for your own benefit up to age 70 in order to receive delayed retirement credits based on your own record.

(Video) Social Security Rules for Divorced Spouses (Complete Guide)

Caregiver and Survivor Benefits

If you are caring for a child of the deceased worker and the child is under age 16 or disabled, you may be eligible for survivor benefits at any age and regardless of your marital status. If the child is over age 22 and disabled, the child must have been disabled since before turning 22. You can qualify for 75% of your deceased ex’s benefit.


How will divorce affect my Social Security disability benefits? ›

Generally, the total amount you and your family can receive is about 150 to 180 percent of your disability benefit. If you have a divorced spouse who qualifies for benefits, it will not affect the amount of benefits you or your family may receive.

Can a divorced spouse collect Social Security disability? ›

Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Your ex-spouse may not have applied for benefits, but qualifies for them and is age 62 or older. In that case, you can receive benefits on his or her work record if you've been divorced for at least two years.

Do I need to notify Social Security disability when I get divorced? ›

No court order is necessary – all you need is proof you were married for at least 10 years and proof you are now divorced. Your former spouse's benefits are not affected at all by your claim – they don't even have to know you are filing on their work history!

What is the Social Security disability spousal benefits loophole? ›

One Social Security loophole allowed married individuals to begin receiving a spousal benefit at full retirement age, while letting their own retirement benefit grow. This was done by filing what is called a restricted application.

How much Social Security does a divorced spouse get? ›

The most you can collect in divorced-spouse benefits is 50 percent of your former mate's primary insurance amount — the monthly payment he or she is entitled to at full retirement age, which is 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956, two months later for those born in 1957, and rising incrementally to 67 over the next ...

How long do you have to be married to collect your spouse's disability? ›

Generally, you must be married for one year before you can get spouse's benefits. However, if you are the parent of your spouse's child, the one-year rule does not apply.

How can I find out if my ex is receiving disability benefits? ›

You ask the Social Security Administration. It can tell you the name of any “auxiliary beneficiary,” including an ex-husband or ex-wife who is drawing or has drawn benefits on your earnings record. Social Security can also disclose: The date the person became entitled to benefits on your record.

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce settlement? ›

"In terms of marriages in community of property, both spouses' debt and liabilities will form part of the joint estate, irrespective if it was incurred before or during the marriage. Upon divorce, and in the absence of a settlement agreement, the assets and debts will be split 50/50 between the parties," he explains.

What can cause you to lose your Social Security disability benefits? ›

The Four Most Common Reasons Disability Benefits May Be Revoked in Los Angeles
  • Court-Order Continuing Disability Reviews. ...
  • Making Too Much Income. ...
  • Retirement or Turning 18. ...
  • Arrest and Imprisonment. ...
  • Protect Your Disability Benefits by Working With a California Disability Lawyer.
Mar 14, 2017

How much money can you have in the bank on Social Security disability? ›

The SSDI program does not limit how much money you can have in the bank because there are no resource limits as you find with SSI.

Which pays more Social Security or disability? ›

If you're comparing these two types of Social Security benefits, then you should know that typically the SSDI benefits pay more. In fact, disability in this scenario is, on average, more than double the benefits you would receive from SSI benefits. However, every individual situation may have varying results.

What is the spouse 50 rule for Social Security? ›

Your full spouse's benefit could be up to 50 percent of your spouse's full retirement age amount if you are full retirement age when you take it. If you qualify for your own retirement benefit and a spouse's benefit, we always pay your own benefit first.

What is the Social Security 5 year rule? ›

You must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five of the last 10 years. If you also get a pension from a job where you didn't pay Social Security taxes (e.g., a civil service or teacher's pension), your Social Security benefit might be reduced.

What is the Social Security spousal bump? ›

The top spousal benefit is 50 percent of your husband's or wife's primary insurance amount (the retirement benefit he or she is entitled to at full retirement age, which is 66 and 4 months for people born in 1956, 66 and 6 months for those born in 1957, and gradually increasing to 67).

At what age can I collect 1 2 of my husband's Social Security? ›

If you are receiving retirement or disability benefits, your spouse may be eligible for spouse benefits if they are: At least age 62. Any age and caring for a child who is under age 16 or who has a disability that began before age 22.

Does my spouse automatically get half my Social Security? ›

Yes. If you qualify for your own retirement and spouse's benefits, we will always pay your own benefits first. If your benefit amount as a spouse is higher than your own retirement benefit, you will get a combination of the two benefits that equals the higher amount.

What percentage of my husband's Social Security can I get? ›

The spousal benefit can be as much as half of the worker's "primary insurance amount," depending on the spouse's age at retirement. If the spouse begins receiving benefits before "normal (or full) retirement age," the spouse will receive a reduced benefit.

How can I double my Social Security benefits? ›

Additional work will increase your retirement benefits. Each year you work will replace a zero or low earnings year in your Social Security benefit calculation, which could help to increase your benefit amount. Social Security bases your retirement benefits on your lifetime earnings.

What is the average Social Security monthly check? ›

Table of Contents
Type of beneficiaryBeneficiariesAverage monthly benefit (dollars)
Number (thousands)
Old-Age and Survivors Insurance57,3341,745.35
Retirement benefits51,4911,779.16
16 more rows

What will the Social Security increase be for 2023? ›

Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments will increase by 8.7% in 2023. This is the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) required by law.

How does Social Security work for divorced couples? ›

If you are divorced, your ex-spouse can receive benefits based on your record (even if you have remarried) if: Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer. Your ex-spouse is unmarried. Your ex-spouse is age 62 or older.

Why wait 10 years to divorce? ›

California is one of a few states where you can benefit in alimony payments from staying married 10 years or longer. In this situation, the spouse earning less income retains the right to be paid alimony for as long as he or she needs, and as long as the paying spouse can pay.

How can I find out what my ex husband's Social Security benefit is? ›

Call your local office or Social Security's national customer service line (800-772-1213) to make an appointment. You'll need to show your marriage certificate and divorce decree to prove that the union lasted at least 10 years, the basic qualification for ex-spouses to receive benefits.

How do I access my ex husband's Social Security benefits? ›

Form SSA-2 | Information You Need to Apply for Spouse's or Divorced Spouse's Benefits. You can apply: Online, if you are within 3 months of age 62 or older, or. By calling our national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or visiting your local Social Security office.

Who loses more in a divorce? ›

While many men are quick to say that their ex-wives took everything, including the dog—or that is what many country songs lead you to believe, anyway—the truth is that women often fare worse in a divorce.

What do you lose when you divorce? ›

Know your state's laws

If you live in a state with community property laws, such as Washington, California, or Texas, you could lose half of everything that's jointly owned in a divorce. In these states, marital assets — and debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage — are divided 50/50.

Why moving out is the biggest mistake in a divorce? ›

One of the most significant ways moving out can influence your divorce is when it comes to child custody. If you move out, it means you don't spend as much time with your kids. Not only can this harm your relationship, but it can also damage your custody claims.

What disqualifies a person from disability? ›

To qualify for disability benefits, a person must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) earning up to a certain amount. If you are able to make more than the SGA, then you will not qualify. For 2022 the threshold is $1,470 per month. For an applicant who is statutorily blind the amount is $2,460.

What are the disadvantages of Social Security disability? ›

Your SSDI payment may also be taxed, especially if you have a spouse who still earns money. For many people, SSDI doesn't cover their financial needs. It also means that, even if you make it through the onerous process of applying and qualifying, SSDI likely won't be enough to make ends meet.

How long can you stay on Social Security disability? ›

What Age Are You When Social Security Disability Stops? Social Security Disability can stay active for as long as you're disabled. If you receive benefits until age 65, your SSDI benefits will stop, and your retirement benefits will begin.

Does disability look at your bank account? ›

Social Security: Can the SSA Check Your Bank Accounts if You're On Disability? The Social Security Administration can only check your bank accounts if you have allowed them to do so. For those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the SSA can check your bank account because they were given permission.

Can I have a savings account while on Social Security disability? ›

Can you have a savings account if you receive Social Security disability benefits? Yes, you can have a savings account if you receive disability benefits. However, your account balance may impact your eligibility depending on which benefits you're applying for. SSDI does not have any savings account limits.

What happens if you inherit money while on disability? ›

The only income that would affect SSDI benefits is earned income that exceeds $1,170/month. Inheritances are unearned income. As such, any inheritance you receive will not affect SSDI benefits.

What is the most approved disability? ›

What Is the Most Approved Disability? Arthritis and other musculoskeletal system disabilities make up the most commonly approved conditions for social security disability benefits. This is because arthritis is so common. In the United States, over 58 million people suffer from arthritis.

What is considered to be a permanent disability? ›

Permanent disability (PD) is any lasting disability from your work injury or illness that affects your ability to earn a living. If your injury or illness results in PD you are entitled to PD benefits, even if you are able to go back to work.

Which is better long term disability or Social Security? ›

After all that, the average Social Security benefit is just a little over $1,000. Compared to LTDI, the most cost-effective option if you want financial protection, SSDI falls short. Long-term disability insurance not only fully (or almost fully) covers your lost income, it's also far easier to qualify for.

Can my ex wife collect on my Social Security if I remarry? ›

If you remarry, you cannot receive benefits on your former spouse's record unless the new marriage ends (by death, divorce, or annulment).

Can a wife draw her husband's Social Security if he is still living? ›

As a spouse, you can claim a Social Security benefit based on your own earnings record, or collect a spousal benefit in the amount of 50% of your spouse's Social Security benefit, but not both. You are automatically entitled to receive whichever benefit provides you the higher monthly amount.

How do you get the $16728 Social Security bonus? ›

How do you get the Social Security bonus? For every year that you delay claiming past full retirement age, your monthly benefits will get an 8% “bonus.” That amounts to a whopping 24% if you wait to file until age 70.

What is the $16 728 Social Security secret? ›

You can get a bonus of up to $16,728 per year so that your Social Security payment check increases every month.

Do I need to notify Social Security when I get divorced? ›

No court order is necessary – all you need is proof you were married for at least 10 years and proof you are now divorced. Your former spouse's benefits are not affected at all by your claim – they don't even have to know you are filing on their work history!

How long do you have to be married to collect your spouse's Social Security? ›

What are the marriage requirements to receive Social Security spouse's benefits? Generally, you must be married for one year before you can get spouse's benefits. However, if you are the parent of your spouse's child, the one-year rule does not apply.

Can my ex wife get my Social Security disability if she remarries? ›

To be eligible, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for 10 years or more. If you have since remarried, you can't collect benefits on your former spouse's record unless your later marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death.

What types of income do you have to report to Social Security disability? ›

Change in earned and unearned income, including a change in wages or net earnings from self-employment, including your spouse's income if you are married and living together, and parents' income if applying for a child.

Does spousal income affect Social Security disability? ›

In establishing eligibility and the benefit amount, SSI also considers the financial resources of certain people associated with the recipient, such as spouses of SSI recipients. Marital status, therefore, can be an important factor in determining eligibility and in calculating the amount of the benefit.

Does spousal income affect disability? ›

Your spouse's income will not affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This is because your SSDI benefits are based on your previous income and what you paid into Social Security.

How long do you have to be married to receive your spouse's Social Security? ›

What are the marriage requirements to receive Social Security spouse's benefits? Generally, you must be married for one year before you can get spouse's benefits. However, if you are the parent of your spouse's child, the one-year rule does not apply.

Does disability pay more than Social Security? ›

If you're comparing these two types of Social Security benefits, then you should know that typically the SSDI benefits pay more.

Do you have to file taxes on Social Security disability? ›

You report the taxable portion of your social security benefits on line 6b of Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR. Your benefits may be taxable if the total of (1) one-half of your benefits, plus (2) all of your other income, including tax-exempt interest, is greater than the base amount for your filing status.

How do you know if Social Security is investigating you? ›

YOU MAY BE UNDER SSA INVESTIGATION AT YOUR CONSULTATIVE EXAMINATION. Typically, when the SSA decides to start an investigation, they will have an investigator follow you at your Consultative Examination. The people who follow you are not police officers, they are investigators.

What is the income limit for SSDI in 2023? ›

The earning limits for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit recipients have increased for 2023. The current limit is $2,460 per month for blind individuals and $1,470 for non-blind individuals. Recipients must also be aware of the monthly income amounts that might trigger a trial work period (TWP).

Can a stay at home mom get disability? ›

If you're a homemaker or stay-at-home parent, your best option for disability benefits is to apply for supplemental security income. SSI is available to everyone, regardless of your history of paid, taxed work.

What is the SSI marriage penalty for 2023? ›

In 2023, this maximum benefit is $914 a month. However, if two beneficiaries are married to each other, they are considered an eligible couple and don't get their own separate benefits. The government applies a couple's rate of $1,371 a month — 1.5 times the individual benefit.


1. How Remarriage Affects Social Security Benefits
(The Medicare Family)
2. Benefits From A Deceased Ex-Spouse?
(Devin Carroll)
3. Will You Lose Your SSDI or SSI if You Get Married
(Social Security Disability videos)
4. Can SSDI Be Considered In West Virginia Divorce?
(Pritt & Pritt, PLLC)
5. I receive Social Security Disability benefits. How can family members be eligible for benefits?
(The Nomberg Law Firm)
6. Will Getting Married Affect My Social Security Disability Benefits?
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