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5 Quick Facts About SSDI and Divorce

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A disabled individual encounters substantial challenges in daily life but, for purposes of divorce, you and your spouse are very similar to other married people living in Maryland: Your marital assets will be equitably divided between each of you, one party may be entitled to alimony, and you will both be responsible for the care and support of minor children. However, the snag enters the picture when one spouse is receiving benefits under the federal Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) program. Payments to that person will continue as long as he or she remains eligible, so many divorcing couples want to know the implications.

Whether you are the recipient of SSDI benefits or are divorcing a person who receives them, it is essential to consult with a Maryland Social Security disability lawyer in addition to your divorce attorney.

  1. The duration of your marriage is a key factor. If you receive SSDI benefits based upon your own work record, divorce will not impact your payments because you are the qualifying recipient. When the SSDI eligibility was based upon your spouse’s work history, you may also continue to receive benefits if:
  • You were married for at least 10 years;
  • You are at least 62 years old;
  • You are not remarried; and,
  • You cannot obtain larger SSDI benefits through your own work credits.
  1. You could receive future benefits as a surviving ex-spouse. It is also possible to be approved for benefits if your ex-spouse has not yet applied for SSDI. As long as you are both at least 62 years old and the divorce was finalized more than two years ago, you could receive SSDI payments once your former spouse is approved.
  1. Divorce has different implications for recipients of SSI versus SSDI. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is also a federal disability program but, unlike SSDI, it is needs-based. As a result, your payments may actually increase as the recipient of SSI, since the amount is calculated based upon the resources you have available as support; your spouse’s income is a contribution you will no longer have once divorced. Note that there are additional implications if you receive alimony, which is considered income for purposes of SSI.
  1. Your SSDI benefits could go towards child support. If you are receiving SSDI on your own work record, your payments could be affected by a divorce court order for child support. All parents have an obligation to provide for their children financially, so your SSDI benefits could be seized by officials if you fall behind in payments. Keep in mind that this rule also applies to any lump sum amount you received as back pay for SSDI benefits.

Talk to a Maryland SSDI Attorney About Divorce and Disability

At the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC, our Maryland Social Security disability lawyers are committed to assisting recipients and applicants for SSDI benefits – including those going through the divorce process. For more information on how a divorce will affect you personally, please contact our offices. We can advise you after reviewing your unique circumstances.

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