El Mirage, AZ asked in Family Law and Social Security for Arizona

Q: My wife (52 yrs. old) receives SSDI and lied to me about the backpay she received. I pay 90% of our bills. Is this lega

Is this legal? Last year she told me she received $25,000 which she promptly bought her a Cadillac Escalade but just saw her 2019 W2 she was hiding and her backpay was actually more than $49,000 after paying her lawyer and Medicare deduction. She completely kept me in the dark, even though I was completely transparent throughout the process of my own VA disability claim. I pay 85 to 90% of our bills. I know this isn't ethically right what she did..but is it legal?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Mike Branum
Mike Branum
  • Saint George, UT
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: I am not an expert on SSDI and would highly recommend you consult with such an expert before considering any legal action. The back pay, when it was awarded, may have been classified as separate property. The Caddy, however, may be community property particularly if you are both on the title. I am not sure you would have much of a suit against your wife for merely making purchases you do not agree with regardless of whether or not the funds were classified as community or separate property by the court. If you were to divorce, you could make a case that she wasted community funds and you could seek compensation as part of the settlement.

It seems to me like the larger issue here is the deception in your relationship. If you are NOT seeking divorce, you need to get into counseling and find out why the two of you cannot have open and honest communications about your finances. Ultimately this is a much larger personal matter than legal matter.

1 user found this answer helpful

Steve Perrigo
Steve Perrigo
  • Social Security Disability Lawyer

A: Her SSDI payments are for her disability and she is under no legal obligation to tell you. Besides the moral and ethical issues, it would also pose a tax issue if she knowingly withheld that information from you while you filed an erroneous joint tax return.

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