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How a divorce may affect your SSDI benefits

For most Americans, work is a part of everyday life. After all, you have bills to pay and, possibly, a family to support. Still, if you sustain a serious injury or develop a chronic condition, you may be unable to find a job you can perform. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits provide a meaningful safety net. 

To qualify for payments under the SSDI system, you must have acquired a certain number of work credits. You also must have a qualifying disability. After going through the application and possible appeals process, you may plan on receiving a specific amount of money every month, perhaps indefinitely. Some life events, though, may affect your SSDI payments. Divorce is one of these events. 

Stand-alone eligibility 

As mentioned, you must have a sufficient earnings record to qualify for SSDI benefits. If you receive benefits based entirely on your work history rather than your spouse’s, divorce does not automatically reduce your payments. You should realize, though, that court-ordered child support or spousal support may eventually lead to garnishment. SSDI payments typically are not exempt from these types of garnishments. 

Spousal benefits 

If you did not have the requisite work history before becoming disabled, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits because of your spouse’s work credits. Divorcing your partner under this paradigm may affect your ongoing SSDI eligibility unless you have been married for at least 10 years. Even then, if you remarry, you may no longer be able to receive SSDI payments. Therefore, you should talk to an experienced attorney about your options before deciding either to divorce your existing spouse or marry a new one. 

While SSDI is a welcome safety net for those who can no longer work, it has some complicated rules with which you must comply. By understanding how divorce may affect your SSDI benefits, you can better plan for your financial future.

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