Can My Friend Continue To Collect Disability Payments And Also Collect Part Of Her Ex-Husband's SS?

Sep 3 2018 - 7:56pm

My friend is disabled and receives disability payments (for over 25 years). She was married more than 10 years in her thirties. She has been divorced for many years. She is 62. Her ex is older than she is. Can she continue to collect her disability payments (which are meager) and also collect part of her ex-husband's SS since she was his spouse for more than ten years? She has no other income and is not married now.

Hi,

It's possible. Assuming that what your friend receives are Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), she could file for additional divorced spousal benefits if 50% of her ex-husband's primary insurance amount (PIA) is higher than her full SSDI rate. A person's PIA is equivalent to their full SSDI rate, and it's also the same as a person's Social Security retirement benefit rate if they start drawing their benefits at their full retirement age (FRA).

Since your friend's ex is already age 62 or older, he would not need to be drawing his benefits in order for her to potentially qualify for divorced spousal benefits. However, if she does qualify for divorced spousal benefits and she chooses to start drawing them prior to her FRA, her divorced spousal rate will be reduced for age.

For example, say Mary is drawing SSDI benefits in the amount of $500. At age 62, Mary files for divorced spousal benefits on her ex-husband's record. Mary's ex-husband's PIA is $2000, which would make Mary's unreduced divorced spousal rate $500 (i.e. half of her husband's PIA, or $1000, minus her own PIA of $500). However, since Mary is filing for her divorced spousal benefits early at age 62 instead of waiting until FRA her excess spousal rate would be reduced to $343. That amount would then be paid in addition to Mary's SSDI, giving her a combined benefit rate of $843 (i.e. $500 + $343).

Your friend may want to consider using our maximization software in order to compare her various options and determine her best strategy for claiming divorced spousal benefits.

Best, Jerry