Disabled, divorced, and single? How Your Status Pays Off with Social Security

Disabled, divorced, and single? How Your Status Pays Off with Social Security

While Social Security disability programs provide much-needed resources to those with a disability, understanding who qualifies for disability payments can be difficult, especially if your legal status has recently changed. If you’re disabled, divorced, and single, you may be able to collect benefits from your ex-spouse’s Social Security record. The following provides a guide to Social Security benefits for those who meet the necessary criteria:

SSI and SSDI Disability Benefits 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are the two types of disability programs provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The primary difference between SSI and SSDI is that SSI is a need-based benefit that is awarded to individuals who are disabled and have limited income and resources, whereas SSDI payments are based on an individual’s work history. In some cases, a person may qualify for both SSDI and SSI payments simultaneously.

In the event of a divorce, your SSI payments may increase if you are currently the recipient of said benefits. Because SSI payments are based on income and resources, in the event of a divorce, your resources may lessen, therefore increasing your need for SSI. However, if you are receiving alimony payments, the SSI payments may remain the same or be minimally affected.

On the other hand, SSDI payments are, as mentioned before, based on your personal work history and not on your current income or resources. Therefore, it is unlikely that your SSDI payments will increase in the event of a divorce. If you are ordered to pay alimony or child support, on the other hand, it is possible that a portion of your SSDI payments will be seized in order to meet those payment requirements. Furthermore, while SSI benefits are not considered as part of income when determining alimony or child support benefits, SSDI benefits are considered.

Claiming an Ex-Spouse’s Benefits 

Regardless of whether or not you were receiving an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits during the marriage, it is possible for you to receive an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits following a divorce.

According to the SSA, if you are divorced, but your marriage lasted for at least 10 years, you may receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record if: 

  • you are unmarried;
  • you are 62 years of age or older;
  • your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits; and
  • the benefits you are entitled to receive from Social Security are less than those that your ex-spouse in entitled to receive.


If you have remarried after a divorce, you will typically no longer qualify to receive an ex-spouse’s benefits. Additionally, if your spouse has not applied for Social Security benefits but does qualify to receive them, you may receive benefits on his or her record if you have been divorced for a minimum of two years.

It is also important to note that, assuming you meet the criteria above, you will be entitled to one-half of your ex-spouse’s full retirement or disability benefits.

Claim Your Disability Benefits Today 

A disability attorney can help work towards getting you the benefits you deserve. Rob Levine is the Heavy Hitter® and can work with you to explore all of the benefits to which you are entitled for your disability. To get started on filing your claim for benefits and for a free case consultation, call us today at 866-LAW-SSDI (529-7734).

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