Don’t Lose Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSD), or Medicaid If You Marry

Posted on: April 15th, 2017 by Lawrence A. Friedman

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD) are monthly payments to an individual who is disabled per Social Security definition.  Medicaid can cover health care for people who meet the Social Security definition of disabled and in some cases developmental disabilities housing as well.


Although the actual test is very technical, for the most part an individual is Social Security Disabled if he/she can’t work and earn significant income due to a disabling medical condition expected to last at least a year or result in death.  Significant income is at least $1,170 ($1,950 if blind for Social Security purposes) per month in 2017.


Eligibility and benefits depend on income and assets for SSI and Medicaid but work history for SSD.  To read more on qualifying as Social Security disabled and Social Security disability benefits, click this link


Because SSI and Medicaid base eligibility and benefits on income and assets of both spouses, marriage can lead to loss or reduction of benefits.  This is particularly likely if the new spouse has more than very modest income and savings.  The exact impact would depend on the type and amount of income and savings and the make up of the household.


Social Security Disability (SSD) eligibility and benefits don’t depend on finances.  Instead, to qualify for SSD, you must have sufficient Social Security covered work experience or qualify for child insurance Social Security Disability benefit SSD per 42 U.S.C. 402(d).


Child insurance Social Security Disability benefit SSD is paid to people who become disabled before age 22 if a parent either receives Social Security retirement or disability benefits or died after working sufficient quarters of Social Security covered work to qualify for Social Security retirement or Social Security Disability benefits.


Marrying an individual who doesn’t receive Social Security Administration benefits will disqualify you for child insurance Social Security Disability SSD (i.e. SSD on your parent’s work record).  However, marriage won’t cause you to lose Social Security Disability SSD benefits based on your own work history.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for an individual with developmental disabilities or other early onset serious disabilities to accumulate sufficient quarters of Social Security covered work to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.


Although an obvious way to avoid losing benefits is simply not to marry, that may be unfair and extreme. A more acceptable option could be to live together without a formal marriage.  But even that may be overkill because not all marriages lead to loss of benefits.  Depending on your situation, FriedmanLaw may be able to guide you with individually tailored planning to let you marry and keep SSD, SSI, and Medicaid.


As this website provides general information and isn’t tailored to your particular situation, it doesn’t constitute legal advice and may not take into account rules and exceptions that affect you. Although updated from time to time, this website may not take account of recent legal developments or differences in laws from state to state. For safety sake, obtain individual legal advice before you act! You assume all risk of acting on information contained in this website. This website doesn’t constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship exists unless FriedmanLaw and you execute a written engagement agreement. Please contact us at 908-704-1900 to discuss engaging FriedmanLaw to help resolve your legal concerns.
Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.