Will Continuing to Live With My Ex-Husband Affect my SSI?


My question is: I have been approved for my SSI and I'm currently living in the same house as my ex-husband. We have separate rooms—we are not a couple, he doesn't take care of me at all—but he has a good job. Can the SSA use his income toward my case?


When determining your eligibility and benefit amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security generally does not count against you the income or resources of an ex-spouse. However, the fact that you continue to live with your ex-spouse complicates matters somewhat.

Fortunately, the SSA's employee manual known as the "POMS" addresses just this situation. Under POMS rule SI 00501.150(G)(2), when two individuals who have previously been married continue to live together after divorce, they will not be treated as a married couple for SSI purposes as long as they no longer "hold themselves out" as a married couple and they present evidence of their divorce.

SSA will likely require you to provide a copy of the divorce decree and a statement explaining why you continue to live together (for example, due to illness or financial difficulties).

When a question exists as to whether individuals hold themselves out as being married, the SSA will require a signed statement from one or both people describing the nature of their relationship. If there is any evidence that either of the individuals still present themselves to other as married, the SSA will probe further, asking questions such as:

  • How do you introduce the other person in social situations?
  • Do you still use your married name (if applicable)?
  • How is mail addressed to you and the other person?
  • Do you own your home jointly? If you rent, are both your names on the lease?
  • Do your bills, bank accounts, and tax returns identify you as married?
The bottom line is that as long as you have a divorce decree and you're not holding yourselves out as being married, the fact that you live together should not affect your eligibility for SSI.
Finally, keep in mind that if your ex-spouse (or anyone else) buys your food, pays your rent, or allows you to live for free at his or her home, Social Security will likely deem this "in kind" support, which could reduce the amount of your SSI payment. (For more, please refer to our article on How In-Kind Income and Support Affect SSI.)

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