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Can divorce affect my SSD benefits in Tennessee?

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People who cannot work due to debilitating physical or mental conditions may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Sometimes, the dependents of these beneficiaries also qualify for benefits. As any Social Security lawyer in Nashville understands, various factors can affect eligibility for SSD benefits. For some beneficiaries, marital status is one of these factors. As a result, some people may lose their entitlement to SSD benefits after getting divorced.

Disabled beneficiaries

Direct SSD beneficiaries can continue receiving benefits regardless of marital status. This is because these individuals draw benefits based on their own earnings records, rather than the records of their spouses. As long as direct beneficiaries continue meeting the Social Security Administration's medical and financial requirements, they can collect benefits.

Divorcing beneficiaries should note that certain divorce-related obligations, such as child support and alimony, can be garnished from SSD benefits. Therefore, divorce may indirectly affect the SSD payments a direct beneficiary receives.

Dependent spouses

The SSA awards spouse's benefits to people who are older than 62 and married to SSD beneficiaries. As a Social Security lawyer in Nashville can confirm, these spouses automatically lose their benefits upon divorce. However, a person may be eligible for ex-spouse's benefits if he or she meets the following criteria:

  • The individual was married to the beneficiary for at least 10 years.
  • The individual cannot receive a greater benefit based on anyone else's earnings record.
  • The individual remains unmarried.

According to Social Security, an ex-spouse's disability benefits terminate when a person remarries, but a new marriage may not result in permanent benefit loss. If the marriage ends in annulment, divorce or death, the ex-spouse may be able to resume collecting ex-spouse's benefits. However, the SSA first considers whether the ex-spouse could collect a greater benefit based on the more recent marriage.

Benefits for parents

People who collect mother's or father's benefits may be eligible to continue receiving benefits after divorcing. These benefits are awarded to people who care for at least one child of a disabled spouse. Given this criterion, after divorce, a parent may still qualify to receive these benefits.

If an SSD beneficiary's child is younger than 16, a spouse or ex-spouse who provides care can collect benefits. If the child is over age 22 and disabled, the caregiving parent may also qualify for mother's or father's benefits. However, the child must suffer from a condition that began before the child turned 22. Furthermore, the child must qualify as disabled under the SSA's specific criteria.

Planning ahead

Anticipating how divorce will affect SSD benefit entitlement can be difficult for people who receive dependent benefits. Seeking advice from a Social Security lawyer in Nashville may help these beneficiaries better understand what to expect.

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