Will marriage affect my disability benefits from Social Security?

Marriage itself doesn’t affect your eligibility for SSI benefits, but if your new husband or wife has income, Social Security will deem some of his or her income to you, which might reduce or end your benefits.

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Question:

I'm collecting disability payments right now for multiple sclerosis and lupus. Will Social Security cut off my benefits if I get remarried?

Answer:

Whether getting married will stop or lower your disability benefits depends on whether you're collecting SSI disability benefits, Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, adult child benefits, or survivors benefits based on the record of your deceased spouse (or ex-spouse). Let's look at each situation.

SSI Benefits

Marriage itself doesn't affect your eligibility for SSI benefits, but if your new husband or wife has income, Social Security will attribute some of his or her income to you (this is called deeming spousal income). Because of SSI's strict income limits, your new spouse's income may make you ineligible for benefits, or reduce your benefits by the amount of your countable income.

If you and your fiancé are both receiving SSI, you're likely to receive less money. You will be eligible for the lower couple's SSI amount, and your combined income will be subject to the lower couple's income limit. (The SSI amount, and countable income limit for one person is $794, while the amount for a couple is only $1,191.)

SSDI Benefits

If you worked long enough to be insured for Social Security disability insurance benefits under your own work record, getting married will not affect your benefit payments. SSDI does not have income or asset limits.

Adult Child Benefits

If you are receiving disability benefits under your parent's work record as an adult child, getting married will usually cause your SSDI benefits to stop. But if you marry a person with disabilities who is also receiving Social Security benefits, you may not lose your benefits when you get married. Learn more about adult child benefits.

Survivors Benefits

You may be receiving survivors disability benefits if you are over 50 and disabled and if your spouse died while eligible for Social Security retirement or disability benefits. Your benefits won't stop if you get married as long as you are over 50. (This is true for those receiving survivors disability benefits on their ex-spouse's work record.)

Domestic Partners and Members of a Civil Union

Your disability benefits won't be affected by joining a domestic partnership or civil union if your benefits are Social Security disability insurance benefits, adult child benefits, or survivors benefits. But if you receive SSI and you and your new partner begin living together, Social Security could lower your monthly SSI payment by one third if your new partner pays for your food or housing costs (Social Security calls this "in-kind" income).

Still Not Sure?

If you're still not sure whether your marriage could affect your benefits, call Social Security at 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security office to talk to a field representative. Or, if you think your benefits were wrongfully terminated or reduced after you got married, contact a Social Security disability attorney or legal aid office near you.

Updated February 23, 2021

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