Does My Spouse’s Income Affect Social Security Disability Benefits?

Yes, your spouse’s income may affect your Social Security disability benefits, although it depends on the type of benefit you receive.
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Yes, your spouse’s income may affect your Social Security disability benefits, although it depends on the type of benefit you receive.

Does my spouse’s income affect my eligibility for SSI payments?

Yes. Your spouse’s income could affect your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards to people with limited income and low assets. Because SSI benefits are need-based, your spouse’s income could show that you have less need than another claimant with no extra income. However, the SSA will only deem certain portions of your spouse’s income to you.

What income does the SSA deem to me?

The income limits for 2017 are $1,103 for couples. If you are living with your spouse and your spouse is not eligible for SSI, the SSA will deem a certain portion of your spouse’s income to you to determine whether you are over that allowable income. To do so, the SSA will perform the following calculation:
  1. Calculate your spouse’s earned and unearned income.
  2. Determine how many children live in your household and are not eligible for SSI benefits.
  3. Deduct $368 for each child who is not eligible for public assistance.
  4. Add this total to your income.
  5. Take off anything the SSA does not count when considering income (e.g., $65 of earned income, the first $20 in a month, etc.).
  6. Cut the new total in half.
  7. Determine whether the remaining income is equal to or less than the difference in the FBR for an individual and the FBR for a couple ($368 in 2017). If the amount is lower than the FBR difference, the SSA will deem no income to you and you will be eligible for SSI benefits.
For example, your spouse’s earned and unearned income totals $1,500. You have no income. You also have two ineligible children. Once you have taken off the $368 deductions, $65 of earned income, the first $20 in a month, and halved that amount, you have $339.50, less than the FBR difference. You are eligible for SSI benefits. Determining how the SSA deems income to you is very complicated. Do not attempt to navigate the formula alone. A SSI lawyer from Lunn & Forro, PLLC has experience determining these values and can help you determine what income the SSA might deem to you.

Is there a “marriage penalty” if we both receive SSI benefits?

Yes. A married couple who are both receiving SSI benefits will receive a lower amount of SSI benefits than they would receive if they were not married. The maximum SSI payment for an individual in 2017 is $735 a month. Because the maximum for a married couple is $1,103 a month, each person would receive only $551.50 a month per person. Being married costs SSI recipients about 25 percent of their benefits. For example, Elaine and Johnny, who are both single, are receiving the maximum amount of SSI benefits. They each receive $735 a month, for a total of $1,470 a month. If they marry, their benefits will be cut to $551.50 each, for a total of $1,103 a month.

Does my spouse’s income affect my SSI benefits if we are a same-sex couple?

Yes. The SSA recognizes same-sex marriages in all states. If you are legally married to someone of the same sex, the SSA will count your spouse’s income when determining your eligibility for SSI benefits.

Does North Carolina provide a State Supplement SSI payment?

North Carolina provides an additional state payment (on top of the federal SSI payment) only to people who are living in an adult care home. If you live in a special care unit or in hospice, you might receive a higher amount of state supplementary payment in North Carolina.

Will it affect my SSI check if I live with friends or family?

Yes. If you are living with someone who provides food and shelter for you, the SSA will reduce your SSI base payment by one-third. Using this flat rate for the deduction eliminates the need for showing the exact amount of support your friends or family are providing. For example, Louise was receiving SSI benefits of $735 a month. She moved in with her son and daughter-in-law. The SSA will deduct one third of her base SSI benefits because she is now receiving food and shelter from someone. SSI benefits are intended to provide food and shelter, so if you are receiving them from someone, you do not have as much need. Louise’s new SSI base payment amount will be $490 a month.

Does my spouse’s income affect my Social Security Disability Insurance payment?

Your spouse’s income will not affect your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This is because your SSDI benefits are based on your previous income and what you paid into Social Security.

Get help determining your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

At Lunn & Forro, PLLC, we focus entirely on helping people with disabilities get the funds they need. We can determine what benefits you might be entitled to and give you the best chance of obtaining those benefits. Call us today at 888-966-6566 to set up your no-obligation consultation.

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Established in 2011, Lunn & Forro, PLLC, is a client-focused firm recognized for excellence in providing top-level legal services. We assist the sick, injured and disabled in obtaining the benefits that they are entitled to receive.

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