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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.