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GETTING MARRIED: WILL I LOSE MY SSI BENEFITS?

Getting married, like getting divorced, can effect your disability benefits. How it will effect your benefits depends almost entirely on what kind of benefit you are getting every month. There are two main types of benefits:  Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The SSA can pay you SSDI or SSI. However, the SSA can also pay you a combination of both benefits. If you are looking for information on benefits and divorce, read here.

If you are receiving Social Security Income (SSI) benefits and you marry, it can have an impact on your eligibility for benefits. It is important to understand how marriage affects your SSI benefits so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to tie the knot. In this article, we will discuss what happens to your SSI benefits when you marry. We will also talk about what steps you can take to ensure that your eligibility for SSI benefits remains intact.

getting married hand lettering with hearts and ssi benefits

IF YOU GET MARRIED, WILL YOU LOSE YOUR SSI BENEFITS?

Contrary to popular belief, getting married does not automatically end your SSI benefits. To understand the potential impact of marriage on SSI benefits, it’s important to have some basic knowledge about the program.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program helps people who have a disabling medical condition and also have low income and few assets. To receive SSI benefits, an applicant’s income and resources must meet certain requirements. For example, as an individual you must have less than $2000 savings in the bank. Adhering to these income and resource limits is a must in order to qualify for SSI benefits.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET MARRIED TO A PERSON WHO IS NOT GETTING SSI BENEFITS?

If you marry a person who is not getting monthly SSI or SSDI payments and who is working a job, then a portion of your spouse’s income and assets will be “deemed” to you. That means the SSA will count your spouse’s income as yours. The SSA will count your spouse’s earnings from:

  • wages or salary earned from a full or part-time job
  • odd jobs or money made from freelance work, or
  • other types of monthly or yearly income
  • SSDI payments (if they are receiving monthly payments)

If you spouse makes less than $5,500 per year, then the SSA will not count that small amount of spousal income against your SSI benefits. In other words, in 2023, if you and your spouse have no children and your spouse makes no more than $457 per month, then the SSA will not count any of your spouse’s income against your SSI benefit. If you have one child, then the amount of money that your spouse can earn, such that is doesn’t count against your SSI benefit, doubles to $914 per month. Likewise, if you have three children, then the amount of money goes up to $1,371.

IF YOU GET MARRIED YOUR SPOUSE’S EARNINGS MIGHT MAKE YOU INELIGIBLE FOR SSI

If you spouse is earning more than $457 per month at a job, then it is possible that when you marry, your joint income will be over the SSI eligibility amount. You cannot receive SSI benefits if your spouse is making too much money. For example, if your spouse works and earns $48,000 a year or more, you would not receive any SSI benefits. In other words, your SSI benefits would cease due to your spouse’s earnings. Similarly, if your spouse earns $2,000 per month, or $24,000 a year, which is about half of what the median U.S. worker earns. Then, your SSI benefit would be reduced to around $300 or a 64 percent cut in SSI benefits.

Therefore, getting married is likely to reduce the amount of your monthly SSI benefit. Getting married can also cause your SSI payment to stop altogether.

Additionally, the SSA also sets a ceiling on the amount of financial assets you can own. These assets are things such as money in savings accounts, investments and property that you own (other than the home that you live in).  For an individual, the cap on financial assets is $2,000. For a couple, that amount is $3,000.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU GET MARRIED AND BOTH SPOUSES ARE GETTING SSI BENEFITS

If the person you are marrying is also getting SSI benefits, then the SSA will reduce amount of money you receive. For example, the full SSI payment for an individual is $914 (in 2023), while a couple with both spouses receiving SSI is $1,371. So marriage does reduce the amount that you would each receive individually. In other words, without getting married you would both get $1828 per month. However, if you marry, then you will receive $1,371 a month. This is the marriage penalty.

According to the SSA, the rationale for the marriage penalty is that by sharing a home and financial resources, a couple can live on less money than two people living alone. It is probably an outdated idea as the cost of living has gone up so much. Unfortunately, the SSI program seems designed to keep individuals and married couples in poverty. If you don’t like it, then call your Congress person and ask them to change the law.

WHAT HAPPENS TO SSI BENEFITS IF YOU GET MARRIED AND YOU ARE RECEIVING DEPENDENT BENEFITS

If you are 18 years old or younger (or a 19 year old high school student), then you can get dependent benefits if your parent is alive and is getting SSDI benefits. You can also receive dependent benefits if your parent died while receiving SSDI benefits. Dependent benefits end when you marry or turn 18 (or 19 if still in school).

If you are receiving disabled adult child benefits, then you can receive benefits under your parent’s work record for as long as your disability lasts. Disabled adult child benefits means that you are an adult, but you became disabled before the age of 22 and you are getting benefits on your parent’s work record. If you get married, your SSDI benefits will stop.  However, in certain circumstances, a disabled adult child may be able to marry another disabled adult child without either person losing benefits. You will need to contact the SSA to discuss your options if that is the case.

DOES GETTING MARRIED END SSDI BENEFITS?

Remember, SSI and SSDI benefits are completely different animals. SSDI benefits come from working and paying taxes into the Social Security system. To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must have enough “work credits” to be covered for the benefit. For a definition of what work is according to the SSA, read here. To learn more about how many work credits you need to earn SSDI benefits, read here. Because you earn SSDI payments by working,  will not effect your ability to receive ongoing SSDI benefits. This is true no matter how much money your spouse earns from work. So no, your SSDI benefits will not end if you get married.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU MARRY AND YOU ARE GETTING BOTH SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS? 

If you are getting both SSDI and SSI benefits every month, then you are receiving “concurrent” or “dual” benefits.” If you are getting concurrent benefits from the SSDI and the SSI programs, then marriage could cause you to lose your SSI benefits. However, your SSDI benefits will continue without change. SSI benefits, however, will change or cease if your spouse exceeds the earning limit for SSI benefits. SSDI benefits are based on your own earnings. There are no income or asset rules for SSDI benefits. That is why they will not change if you marry.

You can contact your local Social Security office to find out how your monthly benefits will change due to marriage. Also, hiring an attorney with experience in Social Security law can help you understand what will happen to your SSI and SSDI benefits after marriage. Learn more about the experience of the attorneys at Cannon Disability Law here.

DOES MARRIAGE CHANGE YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAD?

If you receive concurrent benefits, your dual eligibility status for Medicare and Medicaid will change. Learn more about Medicare benefits here. If you need more information about Medicaid benefits, read here. Medicare and Medicaid have a system called “Medicaid crossover,” which helps people who are eligible for Medicare due to SSDI but cannot afford the premiums. People with dual eligibility can qualify for help with Medicare premiums and copays through the “Medicare Savings Programs.” In order to find out if you are eligible for this program, you need to contact your state Medicaid agency.

There are three Medicare Savings Programs that can help people with dual eligibility:

  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program
  • Specified Low Income Medicare Beneficiary program
  • Qualifying Individual program

If your income increases, you may no longer qualify as a Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB). This means you might need to pay more out of pocket costs. However, you still might be able to qualify for the Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB) or Qualifying Individual (QI) program. These programs will still cover your Medicare premiums. You could also continue to get “Extra Help” with paying for Medicare Part D. Contact Social Security or your state health care services to learn about how marriage effects dual eligibility for you and your spouse.

WHAT WE DO TO HELP YOU WIN SSDI AND SSI BENEFITS 

You do not need to try to figure out your benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you figure out how marriage will impact your benefits. Also, Cannon Disability can help you file your disability application. Also, we can help you appeal every SSA denial. For example, our attorneys and staff can:

  • Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
  • Help you file your application for SSD and SSI benefits
  • Inform the SSA that they should automatically pay your benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
  • Request reconsideration if you receive an initial denial from Disability Determination Services
  • Help you confirm your attendance at a Consultative Examination
  • Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
  • Prepare you to be a good witness at your SSA hearing
  • Represent you at your hearing and question the vocational and medical witnesses.
  • Read more about vocational experts here
  • Learn more about medical expert testimony here
  • Request review of an unfavorable decision with the Appeals Council
  • Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court

If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as possible.

HIRE CANNON DISABILITY FOR OUR YEARS OF LEGAL EXPERIENCE

The SSA process to receive benefits is long and complicated. Even if you are getting benefits, changes in circumstances like marriage, can effect your benefits. Hire Cannon Disability Law to give you legal advice if you need help. In the past 30 years, we have won millions of dollars in ongoing and past due due benefits for our clients.

If you want to win benefits, then hire an attorney with the legal experience to win your case. We work on a contingency basis. This means we do not charge you any money up front to help you or for you to become our client. Then, you only pay us an attorney fee when you win benefits. If you don’t win, you don’t pay an attorney fee. For help, contact us today.

If you want to learn more about our lawyers and staff, then read our About Us page. For example, you can learn about Andria Summers, who has 21 experience working at Cannon Disability Law. She can also help you with your Medicare advantage plan. She has also won thousands of SSDI and SSI cases.

Additionally, Dianna Cannon has been helping her clients win benefits for over thirty years. Ms. Cannon teaches disability law and has years of Federal Court experienceBrett Bunkall also has years of legal experience helping people obtain their SSI and SSD benefits. We are Social Security law experts. You can trust us to help you win your benefits and make a difficult process as easy as possible for you.

WE OFFER A FREE CONSULTATION ABOUT YOUR BENEFITS

If you need help filing for benefits, reach out to Cannon Disability Law. Taking the first step, by calling us, is what you need to do to begin your journey to winning benefits. All you need to do is reach out to our legal team.

We offer a free review of your case. What that means is that you can call us and explain your situation. At that point, we will look at the merits of your case for free and let you know if you have a chance to qualify for benefits. Also, we can explain if there are going to be changes in your benefits due to marriage or divorce. We do not charge you for our review of your case.

In the past 30 years, we have won over $100 million in SSDI and SSI benefits for our clients. We are experts at what we do and we will put our knowledge to work for you. Hire us to be your Social Security legal team.

Additionally, we help clients in many states, including Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and California. Find out more about your benefits and how to apply in your state here:

No matter where you live, we want to be your legal team. Hire the best Social Security legal team with no money down and no attorney fee unless we win your case. Contact us today. We will do our best to help you win SSDI and SSI benefits. Also, we are happy to explain your benefits to you. Especially, if you are getting married.

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