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Will Social Security Disability benefits change when I get married?

This is a common question for any couple considering marriage. Many disabled claimants are financially strapped and would have difficulty managing without their monthly cash assistance through either their SSDI or SSI benefits. Claimants may be even more concerned about their medical benefits and whether or not they will lose their medical coverage.

So are Social Security Disability benefits affected by a marriage? The answer is yes, potentially, if you are receiving Supplemental Security Income, but no, if you are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance.

To understand the answer to the question it is important to understand the difference between SSDI and SSI.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) is offered by the Federal Government to workers who have a severe mental or physical health condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months and who are no longer able to work or to perform work at a “substantial level”. If a worker is determined disabled by the SSA they will receive a monthly SSDI wage replacement payment.

Not all disabled workers qualify for SSDI. To qualify for SSDI benefits workers must have worked long enough and paid enough in payroll taxes to be considered “insured” by the SSA. To be insured the worker must work jobs covered by Social Security and earn work credits, the number to be determined based on the date of the disability. Generally, most workers will need approximately 20-40 work credits to qualify for SSDI.

SSDI payments are based on the claimant’s average earnings and the amount of taxes they have paid. It is a fairly complicated formula, but the more a claimant has paid into Social Security, the higher their monthly benefit payment. There is not a set amount.

Claimants can contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 for information about their estimated SSDI payment or they can review their Statement of Earnings which is sent to them each year by the Social Security Administration for an estimated payment amount.

SSDI is based on the workers work history and payment contributions, it is not affected by whether or not their spouse is working, their income or their resource levels.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income is provided to the aged (65 years or older), blind or disabled who are not considered “insured” by the Federal government but need cash assistance to meet their minimum monthly expenses.

Supplemental Security Income is a “needs” based program and is only provided to claimants who have VERY limited income and resources and who meet additional non-economic considerations. Claimants who are attempting to qualify for SSI due to a disability must also be unable to work for at least 12 continuous months.

To determine your SSI cash payment the SSA does consider your spouse’s income to determine if your income and resources are below the federally allowable level.

According to the Social Security Administration, if you live in the same household with your ineligible spouse, they will look at your spouse’s income to decide whether they must deem some of it to you. The SSA does this because they expect your spouse to use part of his or her income to take care of some of your needs.

So to answer your question, if you get married and your spouse's income is too high, it can affect your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and your SSI disability payments could be terminated. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are not affected by a marriage.

If you would like a disability attorney to review your claim you can fill out the FREE evaluation form and a disability advocate will call you to review your claim or you can call our office at 1-800-641-3759 to talk to someone now.