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How will my marital status affect potential SSDI and SSI benefits?

Can I receive more benefits if I am single and living alone?

Some people receive disability through the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) SSDI program. Others may get SSI benefits instead of, or in addition to, SSDI. The amount of monthly benefits you qualify for depends on a number of factors, including which program pays your disability, what your earnings history looks like, and in some circumstances, your marital status and living situation.

SSDI Benefit Calculations

Your monthly SSDI benefit amount is based on an average of your previous earnings. This is because you paid Social Security taxes that were also based on your previous income and those taxes are what qualify you for SSDI. The income of a spouse doesn’t therefore factor into to your SSDI benefit calculation, nor does your living situation.

SSI Benefits Calculations

SSI on the other hand is a need-based program, which means the SSA looks at a variety of factors when determining benefit eligibility as well as how much your benefit payments will be each month. The income of a spouse or the circumstances of your living situation can therefore affect your SSI benefits.

Does marriage affect my eligibility?

SSI for Married Couples

When the SSA calculates SSI for a married person, a portion of the spouse’s income is “deemed” or assigned to the SSI recipient. In other words, a percentage of your spouse’s earnings is considered yours, and since there are strict income and financial resource limits for SSI eligibility, the deemed income could put you over the eligibility limit. If it doesn’t make you ineligible for benefits, it could reduce the amount of SSI benefits you receive each month.

If your spouse also gets SSI, then the two of you may remain eligible, but the amount of your monthly benefits may change. SSI is calculated at a “single rate” or “couple rate.” When both partners in a marriage receive SSI, there is a monthly maximum for their combined benefit payments. In other words, you and your spouse cannot receive more than a certain amount in SSI each month. For 2018, the SSI limit for couples is $1,125 per month.

The Affect of Your Living Situation on SSI

The SSA considers all income and other financial resources when they decide if you qualify for SSI. If you qualify for SSI, your income and other financial resources will be used to determine your monthly benefit amount. When the SSA looks at financial resources, they consider your living arrangements, which means your monthly payment could be reduced or you may be found ineligible if someone pays for your housing, food, utility costs, or other living expenses.

SSI Auxiliary and Survivor Benefits

If you receive auxiliary or survivor benefits as a widow, widower, or ex-spouse and you remarry before the age of 50, then you cannot continue to receive SSI benefits under your former spouse’s earnings record. If you’re 50 or older however, you could continue to receive SSI if you remarry, but a portion of your new spouse’s income will be deemed to you.

Getting Help with Your Disability Questions

Your disability benefits are an essential source of income for you. Before making major life adjustments, it is therefore crucial you know how those changes will affect your benefits. A disability attorney or advocate can help you understand the SSA’s rules and regulations can help you understand the SSA’s rules and regulations and advise you on the best course of action given your specific circumstances.