Qualifying for the SSI benefit is based on a number of factors, including a person’s marital status. Therefore, getting married may affect your SSI benefits depending on your spouse’s income. The purpose of SSI benefits is to provide financial assistance to people with limited income and resources; however, getting married can change your financial situation.
To qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must have a low income and limited resources available to you. You may be eligible to receive SSI benefits if you are disabled, blind or age 65 or older. While the Social Security Administration manages the SSI program, which is based on need, getting SSI may qualify you for other benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid.
Income and Resources
In determining whether you qualify for SSI benefits, the Social Security Administration considers your total income and resources. Income includes any money you earn from employment or other sources of income you may receive in the form of unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation or Social Security. Assistance you receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs or from family, friends or organizations within your community is also considered. Cash, a vehicle, personal property, a life insurance policy or anything else that can be converted into cash and used to provide for your basic needs is regarded as a resource. When you marry and your spouse has income and assets, a portion of that income is considered to be available to you. This can reduce or eliminate your SSI benefit, since your spouse is expected to contribute, in some part, to your support.
When One Spouse Receives SSI Benefits
If you are receiving SSI benefits and decide to get married, your benefit could be decreased or discontinued. To what extent your benefits are affected by marriage depends on the amount of income your spouse earns. In addition, if your spouse has access to certain financial resources, this may affect your SSI benefits, as well. For example, you could lose your SSI or have the amount you receive reduced if your spouse is employed or receives retirement income. According to the Social Security Administration, in most cases, your SSI benefits will stop when you get married. If the marriage later ends and you still qualify, your benefits may be started again. Disability benefits may continue after marriage.
When Both Spouses Receive Benefits
If both you and your spouse were receiving SSI benefits before you got married, once you marry, the amount you receive as a couple will be less than the sum of what the two of you previously received as single people. Despite the reduction in benefits, married couples who receive SSI generally manage better financially than individuals receiving SSI who live alone. When couples live together, they usually have a higher household income through combined resources and shared living expenses.
If you are receiving SSI benefits and get married, you must immediately report the change to the Social Security Administration. You may contact the department about the change by phone, mail or visiting the nearest Social Security Administration Office.
Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.