The parties were divorced. Afterward, the husband was injured at his job. He began receiving disability benefits. He was eligible to receive retirement benefits at that time.

Wife filed a petition to receive half of the disability benefits. She was entitled to one-half of his retirement plan under the judgment. The husband was eligible to retire and receive retirement benefits. He rather chose to receive disability benefits. These benefits were essentially retirement.

The trial court awarded their Wife a portion of his disability benefits. Husband appealed. He argued that his wife was not entitled to a portion of his disability benefits. She was only entitled to a portion of his retirement benefits. He had not retired. So, she was not entitled to anything.

The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court’s decision. If the husband was not yet eligible for retirement, it would be a different story.

But, the husband’s disability benefits were not meant to replace his income. They were a replacement for his retirement benefit. That qualifies those benefits to be divided with the wife.

In re Marriage of Benson, 2015 IL App (4th) 140682.

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