Disability Law Articles Battle Creek - Disability Law Blog
Battle Creek - Disability Law Blog

Social Security and Divorce

Posted December 1, 2018

If you have never asked Social Security about receiving benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work, you should do so. Many women get a higher benefit based on their ex-spouse’s work, especially if that spouse is deceased. When you apply, you will need to give your spouse’s Social Security number. If you do not know your spouse’s number, you will need to provide your spouse’s date and place of birth and your spouse's parents’ names.

The following requirements also apply to your divorced spouse if your ex-spouse’s eligibility for benefits is based on your work if your ex-spouse is living.

If you are divorced, you can receive benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work if:

  • Your marriage lasted 10 years or longer;
  • You are unmarried;
  • You are age 62 or older;
  • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work is less than the benefits you would receive on your spouse’s work; and
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

If your spouse has not applied for benefits, but can qualify for them and is age 62 or older, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s work if you two have been divorced for at least two years. Former spouses who are full retirement age may both file on each other’s record and postpone applying on their own to earn delayed retirement credits.

If your ex-spouse is deceased, you can receive benefits:

  • At age 60, or age 50 if you are disabled, if your marriage lasted at least 10 years, and you are not entitled to a higher benefit on your own record.
  • At any age if you are caring for your ex-spouse’s child who also is your natural or legally adopted child and younger than 16 or disabled and entitled to benefits. Your benefits will continue until the child reaches age16 or is no longer disabled. You can receive this benefit even though you were not married to your ex-spouse for10 years.

Social Security Handbook - What Every Woman Should Know


Common Questions regarding Social Security Disability

Posted November 18, 2018

How does Social Security Administration (SSA) determine disability cases?

State Disability Determination Services (DDS) generally make decisions on disability cases. DDSs are state agencies in every state that SSA funds and administers for the purpose of making disability determinations. SSA makes disability insurance determinations for persons living outside the U.S., and for a few other applicants whose cases are not covered under the Federal-State regulations. Generally, an evaluation team composed of a medical or psychological consultant and a lay disability evaluation specialist is responsible for making the disability determination. The evaluation team makes every reasonable effort to obtain medical evidence from your treatment sources.

Who checks to make sure that determinations made on disability cases are correct?

The Office of Quality Assurance and Performance Assessment reviews a continuing sample of DDS determinations in the Disability Quality Branches (DQB) in our ten regions. These DQBs ensure that DDS determinations are correct, consistent, and in line with national policies and standards. As a result of a Quality Assurance review, a DDS's findings may be reversed.

What can you do if you do not agree with our determination about your claim?

If you are not satisfied with the determination made on your claim, you may appeal. In most states, you may request reconsideration and submit new evidence if it is available. A reconsideration determination for disability claims is made by a different decision maker, not connected with the initial determination in the DDS where the original determination was made. Again, the DQBs review the DDS reconsideration determinations. If you appeal your case further, an administrative law judge (ALJ) may hear your case in a face-to-face or video teleconference hearing, unless you indicate in writing that you do not wish to appear before an ALJ at an in-person hearing. If the ALJ’s decision is not favorable to you, you may request review of the decision by the Appeals Council of the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.


You are responsible for submitting the necessary evidence to support a claim. We assist you by explaining the evidence that is required to establish your claim. If you are unable to collect the evidence, we offer special assistance to ensure the proper outcome of your claim. In addition, we maintain cooperative relationships with many groups and organizations that provide assistance with the application process.

Nine out of 10 workers in the U.S. are in employment or self-employment covered by the retirement, survivors, disability, and hospital insurance programs. You are not covered if you are:

  1. A Federal civilian employee hired before 1984 unless you later changed to the Federal Employee Retirement System. However, all Federal civilian employees are covered by the hospital insurance program.
  2. An employee of a State or local government who is:
    1. A member of your employer's retirement system; and
    2. Not covered by a voluntary Federal/State Social Security agreement.
  3. A certain agricultural and domestic worker.

Social Security Administration Handbook


Do I Qualify for Disability?

Posted October 21, 2018

In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

  • A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
  • A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.

Certain blind workers have to meet only the “duration of work” test. The following table shows the rules for how much work you need for the “recent work” test based on your age when your disability began. The rules in this table are based on the calendar quarter in which you turned or will turn a certain age.The calendar quarters are:

  • First Quarter: January 1 through March 31;
  • Second Quarter: April 1 through June 30;
  • Third Quarter: July 1 through September 30; and
  • Fourth Quarter: October 1 through December 31.

If you become disabled, then you generally need: In or before the quarter you turn age 24 1.5 years of work during the three-year period ending with the quarter your disability began. In the quarter after you turn age 24 but before the quarter you turn age 31. Work during half the time for the period beginning with the quarter after you turned 21 and ending with the quarter you became disabled.

Example: If you become disabled in the quarter you turned age 27, then you would need three years of work out of the six-year period ending with the quarter you became disabled. In the quarter you turn age 31 or later, work during five years out of the 10- year period ending with the quarter your disability began.

Social Security Handbook