Social Security Disability Benefits NOT subject to Equitable Distribution in PA

Received a call from a colleague recently wanting to know if Social Security benefits are subject to equitable distribution in divorce matters in the state of Pennsylvania. I love these kinds of questions from my colleagues as it’s a good opportunity to check the status of the law – and a refresher.

Here’s what I found –

“. . . Social Security benefits are not subject to equitable distribution. See Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 609-10, 80 S. Ct. 1367, 1371-72, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1435 (1960) (“[t]o engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of `accrued property rights’ would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands.”); Sorbello v. Sorbello, 21 D & C 3d 187, 196 (1981) (social security benefits are not marital property; “[w]hereas, in general, individuals accrue property rights to pensions, a form of deferred compensation, they accrue no property rights to Social Security benefits.”). A trial court may only distribute money and property that is part of the marital estate. In the instant case, the trial court divided monies that were not assets of the marriage.” Powell v. Powell, 577 A.2d 576 (Pa. 1990, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

If you have a concern about how Social Security disability benefits impact your divorce, an attorney who handles family law matters can help you. Also, if you have a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income case – my office understands the challenges you are facing and can guide you through the difficult decisions you need to make. Many times we work hand in hand with divorce lawyers.

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