For some, disability benefits may continue after remarriage

An exception within the rules allows some to continue to receive divorcee spousal benefits after remarriage.

It is an often repeated rule: anyone receiving Social Security disability benefits based on an ex or deceased spouse’s benefits stands to lose these benefits if they remarry. Although many believe this to be a golden rule that cannot be broken, there are exceptions. A recent piece by PBS highlighted one provision that allows certain individuals to continue to receive a divorcee spousal benefit even after remarriage.

More on the rule

After divorce, an ex-spouse may qualify to receive Social Security disability benefits awarded to the ex. In order to qualify, the applicant must meet the following criteria: married to the person receiving the benefits for at least 10 years, must be 62 years of age or older, unmarried and not eligible for equal or higher benefit on his or her own Social Security record. If these factors are met, a spouse that was already receiving disability benefits based on a partner’s qualification generally continues to receive the benefits after finalization of the divorce. If, however, a spouse was not receiving these benefits options are available. In situations where the qualifying ex-spouse has not yet applied to receive these benefits, the divorcee could apply for spousal benefits two years or more after the divorce is finalized.

The Social Security Administration states that a divorced spouse’s benefits generally end with remarriage.

More on the exception

As noted in the report published by PBS, the exception is found “deep in the bowels of the Social Security Program Operating Manual System.” More precisely, the exception under examination is RS 00202.045 Remarriage of a Divorced Spouse – Policy within the Program Operations Manual System (POMS). The provision states:

The marriage of a divorced spouse will terminate entitlement to such benefits unless the marriage is to an individual entitled to a widow(er)’s, mother’s, father’s, CDB, divorced spouse’s, or parent’s benefits.

Essentially, this means that the benefits will not be affected if one individual who receives these benefits is marrying another individual who is also receiving these benefits.

Applying for or appealing a denial of benefits

This exception is just one of the many examples of the extreme detail present in the Social Security system. It is also important to note that utilization of this exception could impact retirement benefits. As a result, those who are looking to apply for benefits or appeal a denied application are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced lawyer. This legal professional will guide you through this intricate system, advocating for your rights and working to better ensure a more favorable outcome.