How Does Marriage Affect Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability refers to two different programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Marriage affects these programs in different ways. SSDI and SSI each have different rules for eligibility and calculation of benefits. A Michigan Social Security Disability attorney can explain the two programs and advise you about your eligibility.

SSI Benefits and Marriage

You have to be disabled to qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits. However, for the SSI program, in addition to proving disability under the rules, you must be under the resource and asset threshold. In other words, you must be low in resources and assets with few countable financial resources. For a married couple, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks at the disabled person’s income and part of the spouse’s income when evaluating eligibility for SSI. Since the income limit for SSI is quite low, having an employed spouse could make you ineligible for SSI benefits or could reduce the number of your monthly benefits.

That result might seem harsh, but SSI is only a safety net. The purpose of SSI is to keep disabled people from being entirely destitute, even if they never paid into the Social Security system through deductions from their paychecks. People who worked long enough, and recently enough,  at jobs that paid Social Security taxes can file for SSDI benefits if they become disabled. 

Getting married can reduce the amount of your monthly SSI check in other ways than countable assets. The most that a person can collect in SSI benefits in 2021 is $794 a month. If you get the maximum SSI benefit and you marry someone who is disabled and collects the maximum benefit, your check could get reduced by the SSA. Before getting married, your separate checks of $794 totaled $1,588. The maximum SSI benefit for a couple is $1,191 a month for 2021. Therefore, the combined amount a married couple receives is reduced if they both are eligible for SSI payments. The financial resources limit for SSI is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. However, both spouses may continue to be eligible to have Medicaid insurance coverage if approved for SSI, as well. 

How Marriage Affects SSDI Eligibility and Benefits

You become eligible for SSDI benefits by having earned enough work credits and being disabled, as well as some additional requirements. You earn work credits by working at jobs that deduct Social Security taxes from your paychecks or having a spouse who did so. Getting married does not disqualify you for SSDI benefits if you are eligible based on your work record nor will marriage result in a reduction of your SSDI benefits. 

Depending on your age, you could lose your SSDI benefits if you qualified based on your former or deceased spouse’s work credits and later marry. Still, you might be able to qualify for SSDI benefits using your new spouse’s work credits.

Getting married can impact adult disabled children who collect Disabled Adult Child benefits based on the parents’ work credits. There are some situations in which getting married does not terminate the adult disabled child’s benefits, but an experienced disability attorney can help you understand your rights and how to qualify for the benefits that you deserve. 

SSDI and SSI benefits are complicated and sometimes confusing. A Michigan Social Security Disability attorney can explain your rights and advocate on your behalf. Contact us today.