If we get married, does she lose social security?
October 9, 2012 9:28 AM   Subscribe

My fiancée and I are thinking of getting married in a few months and we're both still in school, I work part time and make about $20,000 a year. She does not work but receives vocational rehab and Social Security (SSI) for her permeant disability she was born with.

Our question is that, given that I make around $1500 a month after taxes (or less). How will my income affect her ability to get SSI and vocational rehab (which pays for her tuition).

Any ideas? Would we lose her benefits? Benefits reduced?
posted by snow_mac to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This site says, "If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits under your own work record (meaning you are the disabled worker,) then getting married will not affect your benefit payments. This is the case no matter whether your future spouse works, receives disability benefits, or has no income." Here is their link regarding spousal income with a few examples. They note that, "The couple’s SSI income limit (and monthly benefit rate) is $1,048 in 2012."

That being said, I'm sure you googled and found this already, but have you called SSA? They are really the only ones who can help answer this.
posted by Flamingo at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2012

My mother was a case worker for 20+ years for SSA. Answering questions like this is their bread and butter. Call them up and ask. They would love to help you.
posted by mmascolino at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2012

Flamingo is referring to DI (Social Security Disability Insurance). Your financee receives SSI (Supplemental Security Income). The income of a spouse does generally substantially reduce the benefits received by the SSI recipient. The jargon is that the spouse's earnings are "deemed" to the repicient. "When a person who is eligible for SSI benefits lives with a spouse who is not eligible for SSI benefits, we may count some of the spouse's income in figuring the SSI benefit." You don't mention if you're living together. If you are and you are helping to support her, your fiancee may be required to report that support to SSA and her benefit may be reduced even if you are not married.

See also.

There is less likely to be an immediate reduction in her tuition, but it's complicated and varies a lot. I'd suggest checking with the organization through which she is getting rehab, which should be familiar with her case, rather than calling SSA.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:38 AM on October 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

That was my error! Please ignore my previous comment. :(
posted by Flamingo at 10:45 AM on October 9, 2012

I want to reinforce Mr Know it all. SSI is income based. SDI is purely based upon disability and the amount of money you put into the system while working.

It is important to know which your girlfriend has.

Vocational rehabilitation varies from state to state because it is a state budget item. I am on my third round through vocational rehabilitation. The first time, my parent's income was considered for student financing. But I don't know how/if that affected my voc rehab (that was in the late 80s/90s). In the late 90s I was on SSDI, and voc rehab covered a portion of my schooling and was affected by any monies I made.. there was some formula involved that did take into consideration income. I'm back to Voc Rehab again due to new issue. This time, I was told there is a calculation (sliding scale basically) that determines % of $ voc rehab covers.
Like SSI/SSDI, the best thing is to ask. Have your girlfriend ask her vocational rehabilitation counselor how her benefits would be impacted.
posted by Librarygeek at 6:16 AM on October 11, 2012

Response by poster: She has SSI.
posted by snow_mac at 11:01 AM on October 18, 2012

Considering that she was born disabled it would be SSI vs SSDI. And your income will count as her income. So very good chance she will lose all or a good amount of it. The only way to know for sure is to ask. One possibility would be to have a priest do the ceremony but not make it legal. Not like you'd be saving money on your tax returns anyway.
posted by Nicholas Geary at 12:14 AM on May 10, 2013

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