Supplemental Security Income, known also as SSI, is a disability program run and funded by the government that is designed to help low-income individuals and their families who are unable to work due to an injury, disability or some other condition. In order to qualify an individual must meet a number of different criteria, including having a physical or mental condition that makes it impossible to work, as well as a household income that stays below a certain level.
Because SSI is specifically designed to help those of limited resources, the government has strict rules about how much income, assets or wealth a person can possess. When someone gets married, then, it’s only natural to wonder if this change in status might also lead to a change in his or her eligibility in the SSI program. The answer to this question depends on a number of factors.
Question One: Does your spouse work?
The first question to answer is whether or not your spouse has any sort of income. If your spouse is not working, or does not have any assets that could change your financial picture even when married, then it makes sense that you would have nothing to worry about. Since your eligibility for SSI is based on your overall financial situation, then if you are married to someone with no financial assets of their own, your status has not really changed much, if at all.
Question Two: If your spouse works, how much does he or she earn?
While a “no” answer to question one is easy, it’s not the usual answer. Typically, most people work or bring in some sort of income if they can, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that your spouse is earning something. So, the question is, how much is being earned, and is it too much?
To answer this question, we need to look at the numbers. To be eligible for SSI, an individual needs to stay under the monthly income limit of $735. For married couples, that threshold increases to $1,103 per month. This is a difference of $368 per month. If your spouse earns less than that amount, or if the combined income of both of you stay under that $1,103 a month limit, then you should remain eligible and have nothing to worry about.
Question Three: Does your spouse have any other sources of income or assets?
However, even if your spouse does not earn that much, there is still a chance that they have other sources of wealth or assets that need to be taken into account. Because the SSA looks at other things in addition to your income, even a spouse that doesn’t work could still threaten your eligibility. For example, if your spouse collects money from a pension, alimony, child support or other benefits, this money can be counted towards your monthly income.
In addition, if your living situation changes, this could affect your income. For example, if you move into a house with your spouse, and receive a discount on some or all of your monthly rent through some sort of gift or program, this could count towards income.
All in all, there are a number of questions to consider when contemplating marriage and its effect on your future with SSI. While sometimes the numbers can be easy, there are other factors that can make it a more difficult question, and one that might need a legal expert to help answer. If you would like to talk to someone about this or other questions about SSI, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.