Will Getting Married Affect My SSDI or SSI Case? 

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Will Getting Married Affect My SSDI or SSI Case? 

When you’re disabled, Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can provide much-needed monthly income. If you have an application pending or are currently receiving disability benefits, you may be concerned about how life changes like marriage could impact your eligibility. 

Because SSDI and SSI are very different programs, the answer to this question is different depending on which type of benefits you are seeking or receiving. 

SSDI and Marriage

What Is SSDI?

SSDI is an insurance-like disability benefits program. Though the program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it’s not a need-based public benefit. Instead, U.S. workers pay into the Social Security system through payroll deductions known as FICA deductions. 

Disability alone won’t qualify you for SSDI benefits. Instead, you’ll first have to show that you have sufficient work credits to qualify and that enough of those work credits were accrued within a certain period before you became disabled. For most workers, this means 40 work credits (which can be obtained by having sufficient earnings in each of 10 separate calendar years) and 20 work credits that were accrued within the 10 years leading up to your disability. The requirements are lower for younger workers who have had less opportunity to accrue work credits. 

You also have to show that you meet the SSA’s definition of disability, which is that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to your medical condition or conditions. 

There Is No Needs-Based Test For SSDI

When you apply for SSDI benefits, the SSA doesn’t care at all how much money you have. You may own an expensive house or have a significant amount of money in the bank, and that won’t be considered. Neither will investment income, income from a trust, gifts, or any money you didn’t earn. The SSA is only interested in how much (if any) income you can earn from work. 

That means that if you’re applying for SSDI on your own work record, getting married won’t have any impact on your application. It also won’t impact SSDI benefits you are already receiving–even if you marry a millionaire. 

SSDI Benefits Are Based On Your Work History

It’s the amount you would receive at full retirement age, and that number won’t change if you get married, get divorced, or win the lottery.

The Bottom Line On SSDI And Marriage

The bottom line is that if you’re applying for or receiving SSDI benefits based on your own record, marriage won’t impact your eligibility at all. It also won’t affect the amount of benefits you receive. By the same token, divorce won’t make you eligible if you weren’t before, and won’t increase the amount of benefits you’re entitled to.

What is SSI? 

SSI is a needs-based program that provides supplemental income to people who are age 65 or older or are disabled. There are several ways marriage might impact SSI benefits. 

Some Of Your Spouse’s Income Can Be Considered

When you live with your spouse or certain other family members, the SSA “deems” some of their income countable in determining your eligibility. That means that if you marry someone who is still working or has other sources of income, their income could disqualify you from receiving SSI benefits. The process for counting income in SSI cases is a bit complicated, so if you are unsure about whether you will qualify due to spousal income or other issues, it’s best to consult an experienced disability benefits advocate. 

If Your Spouse Also Receives SSI, Your Benefits Could be Reduced

To illustrate the problem, we’ll assume that each would-be spouse is receiving the maximum SSI benefit. In 2024, that’s $943/month. However, the cap for a married couple in 2024 is $1,415. You probably don’t have to do the math to see that the same two people will receive less in SSI benefits as a married couple than they were separately. $471/month less, to be exact. That’s a reduction of about 25% of their previous monthly income. 

The Bottom Line On SSI And Marriage

The impact of marriage on SSI eligibility and benefits is complicated. Depending on your spouse’s income and what portion of it the SSA considers, you could be completely disqualified, or your benefits could be reduced.

Other Social Security Benefits Impacted By Marriage

If you are a surviving spouse who is receiving benefits from the SSA on your deceased spouse’s record because you are over 50 and disabled, remarriage could terminate those benefits. However, that’s only true if you remarry before age 60. 

Similarly, if you are a disabled adult who is receiving SSDI benefits on a parent’s work record because you became disabled before age 22, marriage will disqualify you from receiving further benefits. 

Understand Your Disability Benefits Eligibility and Options

As you can see, many variables combine to determine what type of impact marriage may have on your benefits, starting with the type of benefits you are receiving. And, the effect of marriage on SSDI or SSI benefits–or survivor’s benefits–is just one consideration in a complex web. 

If you are considering applying for SSDI or SSI, or if you have applied and been denied, you owe it to yourself to get knowledgeable guidance from an experienced disability benefits advocate. At Disability Help Group, our advocates have a solid understanding of the complexities of SSDI and SSI and are here to help with your application or your appeal. To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out our contact form.

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