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Cases of Interest: Disability Benefits
National Legal Research Group, Inc.

ARKANSAS: Skelton v. Skelton, ___ Ark. ___, 5 S.W.3d 2 (1999).
The husband's firefighter pension fund was a property interest during the marriage, subject to equitable distribution, while his disability benefits were not subject to equitable distribution.
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ARKANSAS: Mason v. Mason, ___ Ark. ___, 895 S.W.2d 513 (1995).
Husband's disability benefits paid by his employer in connection with his long-term physical problems did not fall within the statutory marital-property exemption for personal injury benefits.

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CALIFORNIA: In re Marriage of Elfmont, ___ Cal. 4th ___, 891 P.2d 136 (1995).
Husband's disability insurance benefits were his separate property even though the policies were initially acquired during marriage, because he became entitled to draw benefits only after he had renewed the policies following the parties' separation with premiums paid out of his separate property, and he did not renew the policies with the intent of providing community retirement income.
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FLORIDA: Abernethy v. Fishkin, 699 So. 2d 235 (Fla. 1997).
A state court may enforce a final judgment which guarantees a steady monthly payment to a former spouse through an indemnification provision requiring alternative payments to compensate for a reduction in nondisability benefits divided as part of a property settlement agreement.
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KANSAS: In re Marriage of Pierce, ___ Kan. App. 2d ___, 982 P.2d 995 (1999).
After the divorce decree was entered, the husband converted his retirement pay to veteran's disability benefits that are not divisible as marital property under state law. The court of appeals held that the trial court could not order the husband to convert the disability benefits back to retirement pay.
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MISSOURI: In re Marriage of Cranor, 78 S.W.3d 150 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002).
The true disability component of disability benefits is separate property, but the retirement component is marital property to the extent it was earned during the marriage. Where the husband could have retired with retirement benefits but chose instead to receive a greater amount of disability benefits, the disability benefits had a retirement component equal to the amount of retirement benefits which the husband could have received.
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MISSOURI: In re Marriage of Smith, 892 S.W.2d 767 (Mo. Ct. App. 1995).
Error in classifying property does not require reversal unless the distribution of property amounted to an abuse of discretion.
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NEBRASKA: Ryan v. Ryan, 257 Neb. 682, 600 N.W.2d 739 (1999).
The wife claimed that the husband was in arrears in dividing his Veterans Administration disability income with her. The district court held that the previous order dividing the VA disability pension was void.
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NEW JERSEY: Avallone v. Avallone, ___ N.J. Super. ___, 646 A.2d 1121 (App. Div. 1994).
The portion of a disability pension which represents a retirement component is a marital asset, but the portion which represents compensation for a spouse's personal disability and personal economic loss is not subject to equitable distribution.
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NEW YORK: Gann v. Gann, ___ Misc. 2d ___, 620 N.Y.S.2d 707 (Sup. Ct. 1994).
Payments from a disability insurance policy acquired during the marriage were the husband's separate property.
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NORTH DAKOTA: Fox v. Fox, 592 N.W.2d 541 (N.D. 1999).
Future disability payments do not constitute marital property because they are intended as a replacement for the disabled spouse's future income.
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OHIO: Kimmey v. Kimmey, No. 1-01-68 (Ohio Ct. App. Oct. 31, 2001).
The husband argued that the lower court erred when it classified his disability retirement benefits as marital property and divided them as a marital asset. In this case, the couple was married in March of 1986 and had two children during the marriage. In April 1997, the husband filed for divorce, citing incompatibility.
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OKLAHOMA: Gray v. Gray, 922 P.2d 615 (Okla. 1996).
Although veterans' disability benefits are the separate property of the veteran, property purchased with those funds during marriage is jointly acquired property divisible upon divorce.
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RHODE ISLAND: Allard v. Allard, 708 A.2d 554 (R.I. 1998).
The portion of a spouse's disability pension attributable to retirement pay is marital property and is not statutorily exempt from equitable distribution.
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RHODE ISLAND: Thompson v. Thompson, 642 A.2d 1160 (R.I. 1994).
A disability pension is not a marital asset subject to equitable distribution.
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TENNESSEE: Gragg v. Gragg, Appeal No. W1998-00734-SC-R11CV (Tenn. Jan. 31, 2000).
In a case of first impression in Tennessee, the supreme court was asked to determine whether disability benefits from a private disability insurance policy acquired with marital funds during the marriage were subject to distribution upon divorce as marital property.
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VIRGINIA: Asgari v. Asgari, ___ Va. App. ___, 533 S.E.2d 643 (2000).
The question before the court was whether the husband's state employee disability benefits constituted "retirement benefits" within the scope of the statutory definition of marital property.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Brewer, 89 Wash. App. 425, 949 P.2d 404 (1998).
The husband's private insurance disability benefits were community property, but it would be equitable to award the payments entirely to the husband.
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WASHINGTON: Brewer v. Brewer, 137 Wash. 2d 756, 976 P.2d 102 (1999).
Monthly payments to a permanently disabled spouse under a private disability insurance policy after the dissolution of the marriage constitute separate property, even though the policy was acquired during the marriage and the premiums were paid from community funds.
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WASHINGTON: In re Marriage of Brewer, ___ Wash. App. ___, 949 P.2d 404 (1998).
The husband's postdissolution payments from private disability insurance policies were community property because the community paid the premiums.
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