Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Monday, October 18, 2021

Marital Status Affects Supplemental Security Income

From: AARP:

Being married can have a major impact on what you receive in Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a Social Security-administered benefit for low-income older and disabled people, in two important ways: 1. If you and your spouse both qualify for SSI, you are subject to a maximum couple’s benefit, which is less than the sum of two individual benefits.
2. If you are applying for or receiving SSI and your spouse is not, Social Security can consider his or her income in determining your eligibility or payment amount, a process called “deeming.”

While marital status does not affect Social Security Disability Insurance which is another benefit providing for people unable to work due to serious health issues, SSI is based in large part of financial need.

In 2021, this maximum benefit is $794 a month, and will rise to $841 a month in 2022. However, if two beneficiaries are married to each other, they are considered an eligible couple and don’t get their own separate benefits. The government applies a couple’s rate, currently $1,191 a month — 1.5 times the individual benefit. (It will rise to $1,261 in 2022.) Their combined income is factored into determining the joint payment.

Whether or how much of a spouse’s income can be “deemed,” or applied to your SSI eligibility, is determined by a complex computation. Social Security discounts some earnings from the calculation, and there can be additional deductions if you have children living with you.

Read more here.

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