A situation we see on almost a daily basis is as follows: somebody calls in, they would like help applying for disability benefits, their spouse is already on disability benefits, as result they do not qualify for benefits. Another situation we often encounter is after one of our clients is approved for disability benefits, their payments are greatly reduced because of their spouse’s income. Some question if getting a divorce will help their situation. Below if the following Social Security guidelines.
Rules for SSDI
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (or SSDI) are determined on past work history. Typically, to qualify for these benefits you must have worked at least 5 out of the 10 years before you became disabled. This benefit is not contingent on household income which means that the amount you will qualify for is not in any way affected by your spouse’s income, whether that income comes from a job or disability benefits. If you do qualify for SSDI you do not need to worry about your spouse’s income.
Rules for SSI
Supplemental Security Income (or SSI) is for those who do not qualify for SSDI due to insufficient work credits. This is a needs based benefits which means that any household income is counted against this benefit. How Social Security determines your payment is by taking the maximum allowed payment and subtracting your household income for you and your spouse. This is why we do get the question that if you did legally divorce your spouse, would you qualify for more benefits. Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. As long as you are still living together Social Security will still deduct your spouse’s benefits even if you are legally divorced. If you are divorce and are no longer living together it is a different story however, if Social Security does find out that you are still living together or in regular contact you will have committed fraud against the government and will have severe legal ramifications.
Hire a Disability Lawyer
If you have any questions about what types of benefits you will qualify for give our office a call for your free consultation. If you do qualify and would like to apply for disability having an experienced Disability Lawyer can make the difference between winning and losing benefits.