Living with Chronic Pain
The Effect of Marital Status on U.S. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits
Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may wonder if getting married will affect their benefits. The short answer is that although SSDI benefits are not affected by marital status, SSI benefits are affected by marital status.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI eligibility and payments are based on an individual’s work history and medical condition. Marital status is not a consideration for SSDI benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is based on financial need. Major life changes such as getting married can change the amount of assistance provided. The U.S. Social Security Administration considers the income of both spouses when determining SSI eligibility and benefit amounts. So, depending on the specific situation, marriage may decrease the amount of assistance a person receives or may even make them ineligible for SSI even if their personal income has not changed.
The Social Security Administration also sets a limit on the financial assets a person or married couple can own and still qualify for SSI. The limit for a married couple is 1.5 times the individual limit instead of double the individual limit. This means that a couple may not qualify for SSI even though one or both individuals qualified before marriage.
Finally, if both partners are eligible for SSI benefits, marriage affects the maximum monthly payment they can receive. For a married couple, the maximum payment is also 1.5 times the individual maximum monthly payment. This means that individuals who received maximum benefits before marriage will receive less benefits as a married couple.
Disability and civil rights advocates hope to end these “marriage penalties.” This would prevent discrimination against those who are married or want to get married.
Additional resource: American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).