Does My Spouse’s Income Affect Disability Qualifications?

by | Aug 22, 2023 | SSD Qualification

After you have met all the requirements and are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you may be wondering to yourself, “does spouse income affect Social Security Disability?”

The short answer is that your spouse’s earnings will not affect your monthly disability benefits. No matter how high your spouse’s income is, if you are approved to receive Social Security Disability benefits, your status will not be affected.

However, the only time your spouse’s income will impact your monthly benefits is if you are receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income).

Before you make any decisions regarding marriage or disability benefits, you should contact us and one of our Social Security disability specialists can assist you with any questions you may have.

Read on for answers to more frequently asked questions on this topic.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income is a federal program that is strictly need-based, according to income and assets.

SSI is funded by general fund taxes (not from the Social Security trust fund). Unlike Social Security Disability benefits, SSI has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial means.

Who Is Considered a Spouse?

The Social Security Administration only considers a spouse’s income if they live in the household with you. This is because SSA “deems” part of your spouse’s income to be available to you. Whether your benefits change and how much they are reduced by depends on your spouse’s income.

If you are legally married and are living together, SSA will consider you married. If you consider your live-in partner as a spouse or you hold yourselves out to friends, community, and family as “husband and wife” even if you are not legally married, then SSA considers you married for purposes of the SSI program. Therefore, your income would be counted the same as a legal spouse, which might cause your Social Security benefits to change.

There is also something referred to as the Marriage Penalty. If a married couple are both receiving SSI benefits, they will receive a lower amount than they would if they weren’t married. This includes same-sex marriages in all states.

How is Income Deemed To You?

In 2019, “deeming” is evaluated as:

  • You and your spouse have no children, and your spouse makes more than $386 per month, then your income is subject to deeming.
  • You have one child and your spouse’s income is more than $772 per month, your income is subject to deeming.
  • You have two children and your spouse’s income is more than $1,158, your income is subject to deeming. If you have more children, you add $368 for each child that is not eligible for public assistance.

Examples of Deeming

In 2019, the income limit (and monthly SSI benefit rate) for a couple is $1,157. Here are some examples that will give you an idea of whether your spouse’s income might make you ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Spouse’s Salary is $15,600 Per Year — No Children

Your spouse makes $1,300 per month by working ($15,600/12) and neither you nor your spouse have any other income and no children.

You have been approved for SSI, and about $1,208 per month of your spouse’s income will be deemed to you. (($2,500-$85)/2=$1,207).

You will subtract that amount ($1,207) from the income limit ($1,157) to give you the amount of SSI benefits ($1,157-$1,207=-50). Unfortunately, that leaves you with nothing. Therefore, you would not be eligible for SSI because of your spouse’s income.

Spouse’s Salary is $30,000 Per Year — Two Children

Your spouse makes $2,500 per month and neither of you have any other income, but you have two children (without an income of their own).

About $822 of your spouse’s income will be deemed to you. (($2,500-$386-$386-$85)/2=$822). By subtracting this amount ($822) from your couple’s maximum SSI payment ($1,157), it would give you about $335 in SSI benefits.

Please keep in mind that these are rough calculations and the Social Security Administration’s formula can be a bit more complicated, specifically if you have other income or any impairment-related work expenses. Also, different U.S. states have different rules.

Contact Us for Assistance

Have questions about your specific case as it relates to whether spousal income affects your Social Security Disability benefits? Contact one of our Social Security Disability experts today so that we can assist with your case!

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