How Does a Spouse's Income Affect a Disability Check?

by Ronald Kimmons ; Updated July 27, 2017

When you receive disability benefits, you must be able to continually maintain your eligibility status. Otherwise, you may lose your benefits. Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits are the main two disability benefits available to you. If you are married and you are receiving either one of these benefits or both at the same time, your spouse's income may have a number of different impacts on your monthly disability checks.

Disability Benefits

Each program of disability benefits has different requirements you must meet for eligibility. In the same way, each program has different policies regarding whether your family members, such as your spouse, have any effect on your benefits. Some of these requirements, both on a personal basis and also on a family basis, may include level of income, work history and tax payment.

Social Security Disability

Your spouse's income does affect your eligibility or the amount of disability benefit funds you receive once you are already eligible to receive these benefits. Her income does not have any impact on your disability check because your amount of benefits is based on your average earnings before you became disabled. You qualify to receive Social Security Disability benefits if you have a severe disability and you have paid Social Security tax, not if you and your family have low income. However, you have restrictions on how much income you can earn because your disability should be severe enough to limit your ability to work.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike SSD benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits are dependent on your spouse's income. If your spouse's income increases while you are receiving these benefits, your disability check decreases until you reach the point at which you are no longer eligible to receive SSI benefits. This happens because your eligibility to receive SSI benefits is dependent on your medical condition as well as your income. People who have a severe disability but have high income do not qualify to receive SSI benefits. As of 2011, your income plus your spouse's income should not exceed $2,107 per month if income comes only from earned wages. If you or your spouse also have unearned income, the limit is $1,031 per month.

Spouse's Income Effect

If your spouse's income increases in such a way that your income plus her income exceeds the allowable limits, your benefits end. However, even when your total income does not exceed the limit and you do not lose your benefits, your spouse's earnings have an immediate effect in your check. The closer your and your spouse's income is to the limit, the lower your benefits. For example, if total income in your family is $200 per month, you are eligible to receive the maximum federal benefit amount, which is $1,011 for couples, minus your total income. Therefore, your monthly check is $811 per month. However, if total income is $800, you are eligible to receive $211 per month.

About the Author

Ronald Kimmons has been a professional writer and translator since 2006, with writings appearing in publications such as "Chinese Literature Today." He studied at Brigham Young University as an undergraduate, getting a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese.