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Should Spouses Be Included in Your Social Security Disability Claim If You File Taxes Separately?

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits bring forth a myriad of questions, one of the more nuanced being the role of spouses in one’s disability claim. For couples who file taxes separately, it’s crucial to understand the implications this decision has on a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim. Here’s a comprehensive guide:

Understanding SSDI & SSI

Before diving into the specifics, it’s vital to understand the key differences between SSDI and SSI:

  • SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance): SSDI is based on an individual’s work history and the amount of Social Security taxes they’ve paid. Eligibility doesn’t consider the claimant’s current income or assets but focuses on their disability and past contributions to the Social Security system.
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income): SSI is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, SSI takes into account the claimant’s financial situation, which includes their assets, income, and living arrangements2.

The Impact of Tax Filing Status on SSDI

For SSDI claims, your marital status and the way you file taxes do not directly impact your eligibility or benefit amount. However, it’s worth noting that SSDI does offer auxiliary benefits for dependents, which can include your spouse under specific conditions. If your spouse is age 62 or older or is caring for a child under age 16, they might be eligible for benefits. Whether you file taxes separately or jointly doesn’t change these stipulations.

The Impact of Tax Filing Status on SSI

SSI, given its focus on financial need, has a more intricate relationship with marital status and tax filing. Here’s where things get complex:

  • Deeming of Income: If you’re applying for SSI and live with your spouse, the SSA “deems” a portion of your spouse’s income as available to you, regardless of your tax filing status. This can reduce your SSI benefit or even render you ineligible if the combined income surpasses allowable limits.
  • Living Arrangements: The SSA will look into your living situation, not your tax filing status. If you live with your spouse, their income could affect your SSI benefits regardless of how you file your taxes.

A Brief Review

When applying for Social Security disability benefits, understanding the nuances of your claim type (SSDI or SSI) is vital. Here are the main takeaways: 

  • For SSDI, your tax filing status has no bearing on your claim, but spouses might qualify for auxiliary benefits based on age or child-rearing roles.
  • For SSI, the living arrangement and combined incomes play a significant role, irrespective of tax filing status. 

When in doubt, consulting with a Social Security disability attorney or the SSA can provide clarity tailored to your unique situation. Click here or call (833) 613-0618 for a free consultation with a qualified social security disability attorney.

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