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How Does the "Marriage Penalty" Affect Social Security Disability?

Last updated: April 12, 2023

When you think about getting married, you're probably not wondering if getting married will impact your Social Security Disability benefits. There might be some merit in taking a moment or two to consider this. It depends on whether the monthly payments you receive from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will impact your monthly payments depending on whether the Social Security benefits you receive are from SSDI or SSI.

It is important to understand that getting married or remarried won't affect your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if you collect them on your work record. It is possible, however, that your Social Security Disability benefits could be affected if you are receiving Social Security benefits on someone else's record. This would be determined by your relationship with the person on whose record you are receiving cash benefits.

Those who are widows or widowers, who are receiving benefits based on the work record of their deceased spouse, will be deprived of those benefits if they remarry before the age of 60 (or before the age of 50 if they are disabled persons). When you remarry, you will also lose the Social Security benefits you are collecting under the work record of an ex-spouse if you are doing so under their work record.

SSI has strict income and resource thresholds that must be met to qualify. Upon marriage, for married couples, the Social Security Administration (SSA) "deems" that you will receive a certain amount of your spouse's monthly income as if it were your own.

The income earned by your spouse will be counted as yours, so you may qualify for SSI benefits even if you earn less than your spouse. The amount of SSI benefits you receive each month could be reduced, or you could lose your eligibility altogether. You may reduce your monthly SSI benefit payments if you both collect SSI benefits before getting married.

The SSI program also has a limited number of resources available to recipients. A person must own no more than $2,000 in resources if they are a single person or no more than $3,000 if they are a couple to remain eligible for benefits. The theory that underlies these restrictions is that you can live on a lower household income and fewer resources together than you would be able to if you lived on your own.

The SSA will consider the totality of your living arrangements when calculating your financial resources to determine whether you are an eligible individual and can continue to receive SSI benefits based on these resources. Your monthly payments could be reduced if someone else pays for some of your living expenses, such as food, shelter, utilities, and other living necessities.

In some cases, the possibility of qualifying for and collecting both SSDI and SSI benefits exists. You will likely lose your SSI benefits if you marry someone with dual eligibility for benefits but retain your SSDI benefits.

If you are receiving disability benefits, you should be aware of the impact marriage can have on them. If you are uncertain, contact the SSA office nearest you, and someone can help you calculate any potential loss of benefits.

Applying for Social Security's benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article on whether you can get partial disability benefits or not. To learn more, please visit DisabilityHelp.org today!

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Cheri Hermanson
Cheri leads our team of writers in producing the best quality content there is regarding society and disability, most especially those that helps ease the quality of life for our differently-abled loved ones.
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