SSI benefits, or Supplemental Security Income, is awarded to you according to your financial need. To qualify, you must fall within specific income limits set by the SSA. These limits are limited according to your income, and those of your spouse if you are married.
When the SSA originally sets the amount of your SSI payments, they will factor in a portion of your spouse’s income and their resources. When you get divorced, your spouse’s income is no longer a factor, and your amount is usually recalculated. In most cases, this will cause your SSI payments to increase.
In specific cases, considering your marriage lasted for at least 10 years or more and you are 62 years old (or older), you usually are entitled to benefits also. If both the previous requirements are met, and you are divorced, then you can receive as much as 50% of the previous benefits.
If in the divorce, you are awarded alimony or spousal support, then this money will be counted as income and affect the amount of the benefits you receive. Depending on the amount of money you receive from your ex-spouse, this could cause an overall decrease in benefits. Also, it’s particularly important to note, that if alimony payments cause your overall income to exceed the SSI limits, you could lose your SSI benefits completely.
If, after your divorce, any financial deficits (or loss of income) require you to change your living arrangements (for example, you move in with an adult child) your benefits could be affected. If you were to move in with an adult child, or relative, and do not have to contribute to rent or food, your SSI payments could be lessened by as much as one-third.
So, as usual with government programs, there are a myriad of contingencies that come into play after your divorce. The best thing for you to do before making any decisions that could jeopardize your benefits is to consult with a qualified Tampa Bay social security, SSI, and SSD lawyer. They will look at all the details of your case, and revised financial situation, and be able to let you know how your benefits will be affected. They will also help you take the necessary steps to ensure that your benefits are protected in the best conceivable way.
If I Am A Woman, What Criteria Must I Meet To Collect Benefits From My Ex-Spouse?
Recall that, If certain requirements are met, you could receive as much as 50% of your ex-spouses SSI (and other) benefits.
These basic criteria are:
- You must have been married for, at least, 10 years or longer.
- You must not be currently married (or re-married).
- If you remarry, you cannot collect benefits on your former spouse’s record unless your later marriage ends. The ending could be due to death, divorce, or annulment.
- If you’re re-married and your second spouse is deceased, you qualify to claim benefits from either your first spouse if that marriage lasted at least 10 years, or your second spouse if you were married at least 9 months before he died.
- You must be 62 or older.
- If your ex-spouse is deceased, you can collect at age 60 as a surviving divorced spouse.
- If your ex-spouse is deceased and you are disabled, you can collect at age 50.
These are just some common rules, and each case contains many different financial situations that must be weighed by the SSA to calculate your benefits. Consulting with an experienced, and knowledgeable SSA lawyer will always provide you with the best path to obtaining the benefits you need and deserve.
What If My Ex-Spouse Dies Before I Do?
As stated, depending on the overall financial situation, you may be eligible to receive one-half (50%) of your ex-spouse’s SSI or retirement benefit. If your ex-spouse should die before you, you may be able to receive their entire retirement benefit. This benefit, however, does not include any delayed retirement credits your ex-spouse may receive. You usually are entitled to a benefit amount based on the value of their benefit at their full retirement age. If you claim these benefits before your full retirement age, then the overall benefit amount may be reduced.
Your SSA or SSI lawyer will need to know all the details of your case. In most instances, no special paperwork is required at the time of your divorce, but that may not always be the case. You want to make sure that you receive the full amount you are entitled to, and not miss any salient legal points that disqualify you. Consulting with a knowledgeable Tampa Bay law firm, experienced in SSI cases, will be invaluable to making sure you get your case presented properly and with success.
Some Other Pertinent Facts Regarding SSI Payments and Your Divorce.
SSI is a needs-based program; therefore, your benefits usually may increase after your divorce. This, of course, depends on any division of property and alimony payments.
It’s also important to note, that SSI payments cannot be garnished for alimony or child support.
If you live in someone else’s household and your overall cost to live decreases, such as you pay only a portion of your food and shelter costs, your SSI benefit may be reduced by up to one–third of the SSI Federal benefit rate.
You can purchase a home using your SSI payments, as this is not prohibited by the SSA. It must be the house and land that you live on. If you don’t live there, then the property will be counted as an asset. To receive SSI, you can’t have over $2,000 in assets as an unmarried person. So, this may adversely affect the amount of your SSI benefit.
I Am Filing for Divorce, and I’m Concerned About My SSI Benefits, What Should I Do First?
If you receive SSI, or SSD benefits, you certainly don’t want to lose them due to a divorce. These benefits may be your lifeblood, and many rules, criteria, and regulations govern how much you receive, or if you are eligible to receive benefits at all!
The SSI and SSD lawyers at the Tampa Bay firm of Carlson, Meissner, Hart & Hayslett have the expertise, knowledge, and empathy needed to guide you down the right legal path to receiving the benefits you deserve. Consult with them before your divorce, or any decisions that may adversely affect your SSI benefits. Fighting the government is difficult, and you deserve and need their professional representation.