How Spouse Income can Affect Disability Benefits


Will income from a husband or wife affect my disability?

Yes, the income your husband or wife has can affect how much you get in monthly disability benefits. But it depends on which kind of disability benefit you are getting from Social Security.

What if I am getting Social Security Disability?

If you are getting SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance, then it does not matter how much your spouse is making. The income or assets of a spouse do not affect SSDI because it is not a need-based program, but instead is a benefit earned through a person's work history and the number of work credits they have.

What if I am getting SSI?

If you are receiving SSI disability, your spouse's earnings may affect the amount of your monthly disability benefit. But...this is only if you reside with your spouse. SSI only considers a spouse's income if they live in the household with you.

Your spouse's income affects your SSI amount because SSI is a need-based program. If you get married, or your spouse rejoins you, you should report this change in your living arrangements to Social Security as soon as possible. Why? Income-related issues are one of the leading causes for overpayments in the SSI disability program.

What if you get SSI and live with someone you aren't married to?

Social Security may consider your live-in partner as a spouse if you hold yourselves out to friends, community, and family as "husband and wife" even if you have not legally married. Therefore, their income would be counted the same as a legal spouse, which might cause your SSI monthly disability benefits to change. Whether or not your SSI benefit will be reduced and by how much depends upon your spouse's income.

Again, if you receive SSI, report changes in your living arrangement to Social Security to avoid an overpayment.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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