The short answer is yes; Rhode Island residents should know that their ex-spouses can receive both Social Security benefits and alimony at the same time. The Social Security Administration governs supplemental income for those receiving benefits. Some considerations include age and how long you were married. If the alimony payment is high enough, it could eliminate the Social Security benefit.
The SSA considers alimony as unearned income, which is countable and lowers the monthly SSI payment. If you pay your ex-spouse $400 per month in alimony, their SSI benefit is likely reduced by that amount.
What about Social Security retirement or disability payments?
If you were married for at least 10 years, your ex-spouse could receive SSI payments based on your earnings record if they are not remarried and are 62 years old or older. They will have this option if their payment is higher based on your earnings record instead of their own. The amount they receive from your SSI record does not affect the amount you can obtain or that your next spouse could receive if you remarry. The same is true for Social Security Disability insurance. The SSI or SSDI payment is offset by the alimony payment.
Determining alimony payments
Many alimony payers question why they should pay someone to whom they are no longer married or share living expenses. In many marriages, one spouse worked more while the other tended more to household needs. Alimony is a way to compensate the non-wage earner. In other cases, both spouses might work, but one still has to pay the other alimony to help them cover living expenses after divorce.
In situations where the divorce occurred due to adultery or circumstances, the courts can award payments to the spouse who was cheated on and was faithful to the marriage. Responsibilities such as housekeeping and raising children can also affect the assignment of alimony payments.