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Will I Lose My Disability Benefits if I Get Married?

Most would agree that the Social Security Administration is not against marriage. In its own interests, it really has no reason to have one bias or the other. However, disgruntled Social Security Disability beneficiaries are finding it hard not to make this conclusion, based on their personal experience.

A man from Fort Meyers, for instance, submitted an opinion letter to his local paper expressing such a frustration. After becoming quadriplegic and struggling to stay employed in spite of it, his SSI benefits were cut nearly in half after he got married, and in half again when his and his wife’s income were deemed ‘too high,’ forcing an unreasonably hard lifestyle on both of them. Stories like this abound.

The SSA’s rules about SSI (and sometimes SSDI) being determined by a total household’s income, and not simply on the income of the disabled person, leads to many claimants feeling that they have to choose between getting married and receiving disability benefits. These rules are not designed to be wedding crashers, but rather to keep people from receiving unwarranted amounts of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars because of lifestyle changes that take them out of critical need.

Many argue that the limits that are set on personal household income in order to receive benefits, and the fact that they are cut automatically when a beneficiary is married or obtains other household income fail to account for individual cases.

In defense of the SSA, it would be nearly impossible to make exceptions and decisions based on each individual situation of every beneficiary, and even it if were possible, rulings would still have to have some standard or criteria against which to judge the fairness of those decisions, so as not to be accused of favoritism or bias.

On the other hand, there is certainly room for consideration of reforms and appeal processes, as the SSA’s disability application process is definitely not perfect and will need to be adjusted as the cultural standards and costs of living change, along with updating the average indexed monthly earnings.

If you are considering getting married, it is important to consider how it might affect your SSDI or SSI disability benefits so that you are aware of any potential changes to the income upon which you rely. Be sure to contact the Social Security Administration, and if it turns out that marriage will significantly affect your benefits you will want to know any and all options that are available to you prior to making any changes.

Comments

Married for 28 years both of us are disabled and receiving SSI. We have been told that one of us must live at a different address to prevent losing one of the benefits. Is this correct.

Hi Joanne,
That may be true, but you could also be accused of committing disability fraud. Two people on SSI benefits cannot earn more than $1,100 per month total. So if your combined monthly benefits are less than that, you will not lose any of your benefits at all.

HI Gloria,
Marriage may affect your benefits amount if you and your spouse are receiving SSI benefits as benefits for households are calculated at a different rate than benefits for individuals.

I'm planning on getting married...I'm on ssi and also my son..my fiancé receives ssdi and work parttime under 30 hours making $14.60 per hour for 3 hours for 5 days.. rent is 1195 with sec 8...what I would like to know if I loose my benefits...will my 14 yr old loose his..I was told that I can't apply for spousal support.. until my fiancé retire...what other options do I have...

Hi Peggy,
Marriage may affect how the SSA calculates your benefits and household income, and your son's benefits would be based on your household's income as well. I really could not say that if you became ineligible that your son would become ineligible, you may want to speak with your local SSA office.

My Fiancé is on ssi and I'm not and we want to get married but he is afraid to lose his ssi. So will he lose half of his ssi if him and I get married??