Your spouse’s income does not affect your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, because SSDI is based on your own work history and your payroll tax contributions over the years. The program does not consider your spouse’s work history or income at all. But if you are applying for the other Social Security disability program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your spouse’s income matters. That is because SSI is a means-tested benefits program for those with lower incomes. If you have a spouse who makes a substantial income, SSI assumes that some of that money is available to you.
A Social Security disability lawyer can review the financial situation of both you and your spouse and determine which program, or both, you could qualify for based on your income, assets, and work history.
How Does Your Own Income Affect Your SSDI Benefits?
How much SSDI pays varies. It takes into account your lifetime earnings and factors in work history as well. The average monthly SSDI payment is around $1,200.
In addition, there are limits for how much money you can make while receiving Social Security disability benefits. The amount of “substantial gainful activity” is limited and the criteria for it changes each year.
It is also important to know how Social Security disability is calculated. Both programs vary on how these benefits are figured out mathematically.
How Do SSI’s Income Limits Work?
SSI limits how much money you can make and remain eligible for benefits. It also caps your total assets, or net worth. Its income thresholds are complex, and they can vary between states based on cost of living indexes. Also, you do not have to count all of your income toward SSI’s limits, which is helpful if you work part-time or receive other benefits but also makes it harder to determine whether you will qualify.
As of 2018, you must make under $750 each month in countable income to receive SSI, and your total assets must not exceed $2,000. If you make any income above $0, the amount you receive each month will be deducted from your SSI check. Since the SSI maximum benefit is $750 a month, outside earnings of, say, $500 a month would cause your benefit to drop to $250.
When Does My Spouse’s Income Get Counted Toward SSI’s Limits?
Depending on how much money your spouse makes and how many dependent children you have, your spouse’s earnings may or may not be counted toward your SSI income. If you and your spouse have no dependent children, your spouse must make $375 a month or more for his or her income to affect your SSI claim. For each dependent child you have, that amount increases by $375. For example, if you have one dependent child and your spouse makes under $750 a month, his or her income will not affect you. If you have three dependent children, your spouse has to make at least $1,500 a month before their income is deemed to you.
How Much of My Spouse’s Income Gets Counted Toward SSI’s Limits?
SSI uses a complicated formula to attribute your spouse’s income to you. First, it subtracts $375 from your spouse’s income for each dependent child in your household. Next, if more than $375 is left over, it adds your spouse’s income to yours. Finally, it takes the total of your income and your spouse’s income and applies any deductions and exemptions for which you are eligible.
If the resulting amount is less than the income limit for a couple ($1,125 as of 2018), then you are eligible to receive SSI—but your monthly benefit is reduced by the countable monthly income received by you and your spouse. If you receive $200 a month in other compensation, and your spouse receives $400 a month, your SSI benefit would be $525.
Adjustments May Vary By the State You Live In
Depending on the state where you live, there could be slight adjustments to these limits as well as other exceptions. That is why you should speak with a Social Security disability attorney and have them evaluate your claim before you apply for SSI benefits.
What if I am Not Married But Have a Live-In Partner?
If you are not officially married, your partner’s income can still be deemed to you for SSI purposes. The Social Security Administration considers your partner to be your spouse if you hold yourselves out to the community as husband and wife. However, if you are in a domestic partnership or civil union, and you do not hold yourselves out to be married, SSI does not deem your partner’s income to you at this time.
The definition of holding oneself out as married is an extremely nebulous one, and the chance always exists that the SSA will consider your partnership akin to a marriage even if you do not. To avoid any difficulties that might result, you should always speak with a Social Security disability lawyer before applying for SSI if you are in a partnership or any kind of unique living arrangement.
Call 866-628-8179 to Schedule a Free, No-Risk Claim Evaluation With a Social Security Disability Attorney
While your spouse’s income does not affect your SSDI benefits, it can affect your SSI benefits. To learn more speak with one of our lawyers.
At the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC, our job is to help you get the disability benefits you deserve. We have a long and successful track record and want to make you our next satisfied client. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our office at 866-628-8179.