The Effect of Marriage on Disability Benefits

The Effect of Marriage on Disability Benefits

Getting married is a joyous occasion, full of celebrating the love individuals have for each other. And, for many people, the decision to get married also has several benefits from a financial perspective. However, for individuals collecting disability benefits, getting married may reduce and, in some cases, eliminate eligibility.

Supplemental Security Income

The income a person earns affects the eligibility for supplemental security income (SSI). If you are collecting SSI, you are probably aware that the Social Security Administration (SSA) subtracts out certain income from your total gross income, leaving what is called “countable income.” Your monthly benefit is calculated by subtracting your countable income from the SSI federal benefit rate (FBR).

To be eligible for SSI, your countable income cannot exceed the FBR. In 2015, if a couple’s income is only from wages, the monthly income limit is $2,285. The first $20 of income is not counted, which leaves $2,265. Additionally, the first $65 of earnings and half of all earnings over $65 are not counted. That leaves $1,100 as the countable income, which is the FBR for couples. Therefore, married couples with an income of $2,285 will not receive any SSI benefit. It is important to keep in mind that there are numerous other ways in which income will not be counted by the SSA. If any are applicable, your countable income will further decrease, and you will receive SSI benefits.

To illustrate the impact marriage could have, let’s assume an unmarried individual is not working and is collecting SSI benefits. That person would be receiving $733 every month. Now, let’s assume that person begins a relationship with someone who is working and earning $2,285 every month. Together, the couple would be earning/receiving $3,018 every month. If the couple were to get married (and you must report to the SSA if you get married), they would be subject to the monthly income limits. As a result, our individual collecting SSI may no longer be eligible (or at the very least, not for the full amount).

But, before you call off the wedding, it should be noted that the SSA, in some circumstances, will still count the income of a person you are living with in making the SSI determination. Additionally, there are many more considerations (both financial and non-financial) to think about in regards to marriage.

Social Security Disability Insurance

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a marriage will have no impact on benefits if the person is collecting based on his or her own earnings record. However, if you are collecting based on the earnings record of a parent, the benefits will be terminated.

If you are collecting SSDI from the earnings record of an ex-spouse, the benefits will be terminated upon remarrying. The benefits will also terminate if you are collecting under the earnings record of a deceased spouse if:

  • you are disabled and remarry before turning 50 years of age; or
  • you are not disabled and remarry before turning 60 years of age.

Contact the Klok Law Firm

Obtaining and protecting the benefits you are entitled to is important, but also can be very complicated. At the Klok Law Firm, LLC, we have the experience to help you. If you live in the Mount Pleasant or Charleston areas and have any questions about SSI or SSDI, contact us today.