Social Security Disability Insurance provides benefits to people who are considered disabled and have paid enough money into the Social Security system. The dependent family members of SSD beneficiaries, such as spouses or children, may also receive dependent Social Security benefits. Many people in Chicago do not realize that, after a divorce, a beneficiary’s ex-spouse may still be entitled to collect this type of benefit.
An SSD beneficiary’s earnings record does not have to exceed a special threshold to support ex-spouse’s benefits. If the beneficiary receives SSD benefits, the ex-spouse can also collect benefits, as long as the following conditions are met:
- The ex-spouse is at least 62 years old.
- The marriage lasted more than a decade.
- The ex-spouse is not eligible to collect a larger benefit based on a personal earnings record or the earnings record of someone else.
- The ex-spouse has not remarried.
If the disabled spouse does not currently receive SSD benefits, another criterion applies. The spouses must be divorced for at least two years before the disabled spouse files the claim, or the ex-spouse cannot collect a benefit.
An ex-spouse may also qualify for a mother’s or father’s benefit if he or she cares for the beneficiary’s child. The child must suffer from a disability or be younger than age 16. If the child is older than 22 and disabled, the condition must have developed before age 22.
Factors affecting benefits
In some cases, an ex-spouse’s new marriage may not result in permanent benefit loss. If an ex-spouse marries someone else who collects benefits, such as survivors benefits, the ex-spouse’s benefit eligibility is not affected. Additionally, if an ex-spouse marries again and the marriage ends in divorce, annulment or death, the ex-spouse may be able to resume collecting benefits off the beneficiary’s earnings record.
The remarriage of the beneficiary has no impact on the ex-spouse’s benefit entitlement or award amount. Furthermore, an ex-spouse can receive benefits even if a beneficiary’s other dependents, such as a current spouse, also collect benefits. The benefit an ex-spouse receives has no effect on the benefit that the beneficiary’s current spouse or children receive, and vice versa.
Sometimes, an ex-spouse’s own work history may impact his or her benefit amount. If an ex-spouse once worked a government job that did not pay Social Security taxes, the ex-spouse’s SSD benefit is generally reduced by two-thirds of his or her monthly pension payment.
Spouse’s benefits are not awarded automatically. Ex-spouses must contact the Social Security Administration to apply. After providing proof of personal identity and the marriage, ex-spouses who qualify for benefits should receive them without further consideration.