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Fresno, CA Attorney Blog

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Effect of Marriage on Social Security Disability Benefits

What is the impact of marriage on Social Security Disability Benefits?

For those who become disabled and are unable to work, Social Security Disability (SSD) payments can be a lifesaver. Government benefits can help them to survive in the face of catastrophic injury or disease.  Nonetheless, the process of satisfying eligibility requirements for SSD can be a daunting one, particularly for individuals who are suffering physical and/or psychological distress. This is why it is so important to have a knowledgeable attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability at your side.

One of the questions frequently asked concerning these benefits is whether you can still receive them if you marry (or remarry). The answer is more complex than you may expect and depends on whether you have been receiving benefits based on your own previous income, on the record of your deceased (or ex-) spouse, or whether you are receiving benefits as an adult child who has never been fully employed. Because Supplemental Security Insurance benefits are designed to provide for those in need, the income level of the beneficiary or his or her spouse is pertinent to the amount that may be received.

SSI Benefits

Supplemental Security Insurance benefits are not affected by marriage per se, but if your new spouse is a wage earner, Social Security will attribute some of her or his income to you, a procedure known as "deeming spousal income." SSI has strict income limits, so your new spouse's income may make you ineligible for benefits; it may also reduce your benefits by a certain amount.

If both partners in a marriage are receiving SSI, their combined income will be subject to the lower income limit of the two and they will be eligible for the amount the lower spouse receives. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, your marriage to a partner of the same gender will affect your disability payments in the same ways as would marriage to a partner of the opposite sex.

SSDI Benefits

If you worked for a long enough period to be entitled to SSDI benefits on your own, your marriage won't affect your benefits. There is no income or asset limit for SSDI, so you are entitled to receive it no matter what you own or how much your savings are. If you are able to earn money by working, however, you will not be considered eligible for disability payments.

Adult Child Benefits

This is where SSDI becomes more complicated. If you are an adult child, receiving disability benefits under your parent's work record, if you marry your SSDI benefits will cease. The exception to this rule is if your new spouse also has disabilities and is receiving Social Security benefits. In this case, you may not lose your benefits.

Survivors Benefits

Another complex situation arises when you are receiving survivors' disability benefits as a person of over 50 years of age whose spouse has died. If your spouse died while eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you will continue to receive benefits.  This will be true even if you remarry, as long as you are over the age of 50 when you do so.

As you can see, the regulations regarding Social Security Disability benefits in regard to marriage are complicated and often confusing.  If you reside in the San Francisco Bay area or anywhere is the Central Valley of California, have recently become disabled and are considering applying for benefits, or if you are already on disability and have questions relative to your impending marriage, it is crucial that you consult with an expert attorney in the field of Social Security Disability law to make sure that you receive, or continue to receive, the government benefits to which you are entitled.


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