How a Marriage Impacts Social Security Disability Benefits

If you’re planning to get married, you and your partner should have a lot of financial discussions, including whether your marriage will impact your Social Security disability benefits (SSD benefits). The effect on your benefits depends on what kind of benefits you receive — Supplemental Security Income (SSI), SSD benefits, or both.

If you received a notice of termination of benefits or a reduction in your benefits after tying the knot, consult with an experienced Social Security benefits attorney to help you file an appeal.

Will You Jeopardize Your SSDI or SSD Benefits if You Get Married?

SSDI benefits are paid out depending on the number of work credits you have. When you’re working at a job, you pay Social Security taxes each pay period. These accumulate over time, and if you need disability insurance, your work credits will fund the payments. 

Your marriage won’t affect your monthly stipend, if you have worked long enough to be covered. However, if your benefits are based on your parent’s work record, you may lose the benefits once you get married, or the amount may be altered because it is now based on your spouse’s work record. 

If your Social Security benefits were based on your deceased spouse’s work record and you get remarried, then you lose those benefits if the marriage occurs before you turn 60 (age 50 if you’re disabled). If you get married after those ages, you can continue to receive your benefits.

If your benefits came from the work record of a spouse you divorced, though, you will lose those benefits on your remarriage no matter how old you are. But if your ex-spouse died and you’re still receiving benefits after their death, you retain the benefits if you get married after age 60 (or age 50 if your benefits are disability benefits).

Getting Married While Receiving SSD Benefits

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, then getting married will not terminate the benefits, but if your joint income after marriage raises you over the threshold for eligibility, you may have your benefits reduced or terminated. 

SSI allotments aren’t based on past work earnings the way that SSD benefits are. Instead, they’re need-based, with a monthly income cap for eligibility.

Under the SSI program, if you get married, a portion of your spouse’s income is counted as yours, calculated on a sliding scale that considers the number of children you have. If your spouse is a high earner and the two of you don’t have children, there’s a good chance that your allotment from their income will put you over the qualification threshold for SSI.

The formula for calculating the eligibility of a married person receiving SSI can be complicated; professional legal advice can help you navigate the process and provide insight for you and your spouse on how certain financial choices can affect your eligibility.

The Effect of Marriage on “Dual Eligibility” Individuals  

If you receive both SSI and SSDI benefits, you are a dual eligibility recipient (or “receiving concurrent benefits”). After you get married, your SSDI benefits won’t change, but your SSI benefits could. 

Your SSDI benefits are calculated separately from your SSI benefits, although this allotment may be considered as part of your monthly income by the Social Security Administration. So when you get married, your SSDI + your allotment of your spouse’s income could render you ineligible for the supplemental security income.

Spousal Deeming Also Applies to Shared Assets

You can expect to see about a 50% drop in your SSI benefits, if you marry someone earning more than $32,000 per year. The Social Security Administration also considers the assets owned by both spouses when determining whether someone qualifies for SSI benefits.

If your soon-to-be spouse has substantial assets, you may want to place them in a trust or take other financial planning steps so the assets wouldn’t be considered when determining your eligibility for SSI. Your financial planner may advise you about other options you have so your benefits aren’t reduced.

Appealing Your Benefits Reduction or Termination Decision

You may be able to file an appeal, if you’ve recently gotten married and had your supplemental security income benefits denied or reduced. An experienced Social Security disability benefits lawyer can analyze your situation and help you file an appeal. They can also represent you in a hearing before the SSA. 

If you have questions or concerns about your benefits and eligibility, fill out our online contact form to be contacted by an attorney.

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