Will Getting Married Affect My SSDI or SSI Disability Case?

January 1, 2024

Like many questions surrounding Social Security Disability benefits, the answer to this question begins with: “It depends.”

How marriage might affect your disability claim depends on which disability program you are applying for or have qualified for.

There are two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance which is known as SSDI and Supplemental Security Income—commonly referred to as SSI.

SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have qualifying disability, if you worked long enough and recently enough, and if you paid Social Security taxes. SSI is based on financial need. The Social Security Administration (SSA) says, “It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income.”

The income of a spouse has no effect on Social Security Disability Insurance benefits if you are filing for disability under your own work record. This holds true no matter how much your spouse earns in the future or whether he or she is receiving disability benefits.

SSI regulations are different. Because this is a program for people with very limited or no income or assets, your family earnings and assets can affect your benefits.

If you get married and if your spouse is not eligible for SSI, Social Security will count some or all of your new spouse’s income as your income as well. Social Security may reduce your monthly payment or even completely stop your benefits if your combined income is over the allowable amount.

There is also a limit on SSI for married couples. If both spouses are eligible for SSI, their combined SSI was capped at $1,371 per month in 2023 and $1,415 per month for 2024.  This is the maximum amount, which may be affected by other income or assets.

To determine how much of your spouse’s income will be counted, the Social Security Administration uses a process called “deeming.” The deeming process is complicated and is not “one-size-fits-all.” We strongly recommend that you do not attempt to work through the SSA’s deeming formula by yourself. Instead, you should consult with your disability attorney.

Marriage can affect benefits for surviving spouses. A surviving widow or widower may be eligible to receive disability benefits depending on the disability program and if they meet certain requirements.

Except in very limited cases, an SSI claim will expire when the claimant passes away, because SSI claims are based on the financial need of the individual.

(For more on death and disability benefits, read our blog post “What Happens to an SSDI/SSI Claim When a Person Passes Away?)

If an individual was eligible for SSDI at the time of their death, their surviving spouse may be eligible to receive disability payments. Several exceptions and conditions apply to widow/widower benefits, which include:

  • Time Requirement: In most cases, the widow or widower must have been married to the deceased spouse for at least nine months to be eligible for benefits (but there are some exceptions to this rule).
  • Remarriage: You cannot get benefits as a surviving spouse if you remarry before you turn 50 years old.
  • Individual Disability Benefits: For many surviving spouses who worked in the past and now have disabilities, the benefits on their own work record may be larger than the surviving spouse payments. They can choose whichever payment is higher.

Marriage rules are only a small part of the many SSA regulations you must navigate to win disability benefits.

That is why the Chicago disability lawyers at Nash Disability Law are here to help you build the best possible case for the benefits you deserve.

Let us put our training and experience to work for you. For a free evaluation of your disability case, contact the Social Security Disability attorneys at Nash Disability Law.

We have offices in Chicago and Palos Hills and we can help you avoid costly disability mistakes.