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Does Marriage (or Divorce) Affect SSI Benefits?

When filing a claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, there are several factors that you have to consider. These include age, level of income, residual functional capacity, and the number of years worked. There is, however, one variable that can sometimes be overlooked when deciding your SSI or SSDI benefits, and that is getting married, or, conversely, getting divorced. Below we’ll outline how marriage affects your claim, and what it can mean for your benefits.
 
SSI
 
If you have filed an application for SSI or are currently receiving benefits from this program, getting married can have a negative impact on the amount you are liable to get. This is because income requirements are very strict under this program, meaning that you have to maintain a certain income level to qualify. Marriage, in this case, can adversely affect your income levels since the Administration counts spousal income when looking at your total assets. There is a somewhat complicated formula that the SSA uses when determining how much of your partner’s income is included when figuring out your SSI benefits; however, if enough of the “deemed income” pushes you over the limit to qualify for this program, your benefits will be suspended. However, what happens if your spouse also receives SSI? Unfortunately, this can also limit the amount you will receive as the Administration will then change your benefits to be a couple, rather than an individual. The maximum values for each are $1100 and $733 per month, respectively. As you can see, the amount for couples is less than double than that for individuals.
 
If you are married and get divorced, this can increase the amount of benefits you can receive since you will be losing a certain amount of spousal income. Similarly, if you were receiving the couple rate of benefits, getting divorced will mean that you will transfer to an individual rate.
 
SSDI
 
Because this benefits program is based on physical capacity to work, this is usually unaffected by marriage or divorce. However, getting married, and especially having children, can help to increase the amount you receive, provided that they are all dependent on you for income. However, as a general rule, any benefits awarded under the SSDI program are more affected by the amount of time worked before the claim, and what your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is. But what if your spouse is getting benefits from you, and then you divorce? In those cases, both partners are still eligible to get benefits, even if they are no longer married. However, upon remarriage, these benefits will stop unless you are over a certain age. For non-disabled spouses, the minimum age is 60, and for disabled spouses, it is 50. This means that, if you are older than the minimum, you can still receive benefits even if you remarry.
 
If you have any further questions about how marriage affects SSI and SSDI, contact us today.