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Will my Social Security Administration disability payment change if I get married?

One of the common questions claimants ask on our forum is, “Will my disability payments change or stop if I get married?” The answer to this question will depend on whether or not you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income benefits are offered to disabled, blind or aged claimants who are unable to work for at least twelve continuous months and who have very limited income and resources.

Deeming the Income from your Spouse

If a claimant marries a spouse and this spouse is not eligible for Supplemental Security Income payments the Social Security Administration “deems” part of their income to the claimant and makes the assumption that some of their income would be used for the claimant’s support. Like many rules from the Social Security Administration, deeming is a very complicated calculation and you need to contact the Social Security Administration directly for specific information about how your spouse’s income could affect your SSI benefits.

So to answer the question, yes, if your spouse makes too much money or if they bring resources into the marriage which raises your resource limit above what is allowed by the Social Security Administration, you could either be denied Supplemental Security Income, your SSI benefit could be reduced or your could lose your Supplemental Security Income benefit altogether.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Everyone knows someone else who got married but their disability benefit was not affected. Many claimants do not realize that there are two different types of disability benefits offered by the Federal Government: Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance.

If you have worked, paid taxes, and earned work credits and become disabled by a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.

The Social Security Administration determines disability using the same criteria for both programs so the main difference for determining whether you can receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance will be whether or not you have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Unfortunately, if you do not have enough work credits you will not be able to receive SSDI benefits and your only option will be Supplemental Security Income.

If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance the benefits are based on your work record, and the Social Security Administration does not consider your income or resources or the income and resources of your spouse. It will not matter if you marry or get divorced or whether your spouse makes a substantial amount of money, your Social Security Disability Insurance benefit will not change.

This does not seem fair to many claimants, but Supplemental Security Income is only offered to claimants who have very limited income and resources. Claimants did not “pay into” the SSI system and are not entitled to SSI benefits if they do not meet very specific criteria.

The Social Security Administration requests that claimants notify them if they go through a life event such as divorce, separation, marriage, birth of a child or spousal death. Failing to contact the SSA for certain life events could result in an over payment which you would be required to repay.
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