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Can I receive disability from the Social Security Administration if my spouse works?

Every week we get a several questions on our forum related to spousal income and whether or not a claimants qualifies for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if their spouse works. The question that is really being asking is what affects a claimant’s ability to receive benefits.

Most claimants realize that they will automatically be considered NOT disabled if they are working too much (performing what the Social Security Administration calls substantial gainful activity) because by definition the Social Security Administration assumes that if you can work you are not disabled. There is often confusion about what is considered work and whether a claimant can work part-time, but most claimants know they cannot work too much.

But what if your spouse is working? To answer this question you must first understand what disability benefits are provided by the Social Security Administration. There are two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability Insurance is strictly based on the work record of the injured employee and claimants will only qualify if they have first worked for a sufficient amount of time and earned what the Social Security Administration calls “work credits.” If the claimant has not earned enough work credits they are automatically denied and the Social Security Administration does not even bother reviewing their medical health condition.

Supplemental Security Income, however, is paid to workers who have not worked or earned work credits but who are considered disabled, blind or aged (65 years or older), who have limited income and who can prove that they cannot work for at least 12 continuous months.

Claimants who qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits have not paid into the Social Security or Medicare Trust Funds through their employment taxes and have not earned work credits. Supplemental Security Income, instead, is financed from the general funds of the United States Treasury. What’s the catch? Claimants must have VERY limited income and resources to qualify for Supplemental Security Income.

Other types of Income and Supplemental Security Income

So can your spouse’s income affect your right to get Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits? Yes, but only if the claimant does not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance and must apply for Supplemental Security Income. If the claimant has applied for SSI benefits, if their spouse is making too much money they will automatically be denied benefits.

Social Security Administration Countable Income

The SSA has four types of situations where it will “deem” or count the income of another person:

There are many types of income that are not considered when the Social Security Administration is evaluating a claimant’s eligibility. If you have questions about whether or not you would qualify for Supplemental Security Income it is best to contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. A full list of income which is not deemed can be found by reviewing the Social Security Administration Handbook Section 2167.
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