Will I Lose My Benefits If I Get Married?

Dec 26 2019 - 4:02pm

I am fully disabled due to severe, life-threatening health issues, and have been receiving SSI since 2016. My partner and I would like to cohabitate in the near future, but have not discussed marriage yet. I am under the impression, from other sources, that if we were to marry, or even simply live together, that his income would be counted as "mine", and just the act of being married (legally or common-law), would be deemed as having a partner who can fully support me, and I would lose my SSI?
My main concern is losing my health insurance, as my partner certainly could not afford the costs of my frequent doctor visits and hospitalizations.

Do I have to remain "single" forever, in order to keep my benefits?

Hi,

I'm sorry to hear about your health problems. You wouldn't automatically lose your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you get married, but your spouse's income and resources would then be considered when determining whether or not you meet the needs-based criteria for SSI. SSI is funded by general tax revenues, not Social Security contributions, and it is intended as a last resort source of income for people who have little or no other means of support and who are either disabled, blind or age 65 or older.

Living with someone outside of marriage could also affect your SSI benefits if it changes the way Social Security classifies your living arrangement, or if you receive support from your cohabitant either in cash or in-kind. SSI rules and regulations are much too complex for me to be able to tell you how marriage and/or living with a partner might affect your SSI benefits, but you might want to try using the SSI screening tool available on the following website: https://ssabest.benefits.gov/.

You don't mention what type of health insurance you have, so I don't know if that would be affected by a marriage or change in your living arrangements. However, Medicaid is also a needs based program with requirements similar to SSI, so a marriage could affect your eligibility for that program.

Best, Jerry