The Jackson Divorce Case and Social Security Benefits


Federal law prohibits the assignment and attachment of social security benefits. What does that mean for your divorce case?

The U.S. Supreme Court had a chance to examine similar provisions regarding railroad retirement benefits in Hisquierdo v Hisquierdo.  In that case, the Court said a state divorce court may not treat railroad retirement benefits as marital property due to federal preemption.  Further the court said the state court could not award an offset against other marital property on account of the benefits.

In Dapp v Dapp, 211 Md. App. 313 (2013). the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (CSA) considered whether a trial court could enforce an agreement dividing Husband’s railroad retirement benefits between the spouses.  The CSA held that the federal legislation referred to above preempted the Maryland divorce court’s jurisdiction and the trial judge had no power to enforce the agreement to divide these benefits.

So will the Maryland Court of Appeals, the states highest court, allow an offset for social security benefits in Milton E. Jackson v Gayle S. Jackson, a case that is currently pending before it? Stay tuned.