Various changes in living situation can affect a Social Security Disability benefit recipient’s ongoing eligibility for benefits. Marriage is one change that individuals in Illinois often overlook. In a few cases, marriage has no impact on a person’s benefit amount or eligibility. However, in many situations, marriage can result in the loss of disability benefits.
Loss of eligibility
Marriage typically affects the eligibility of people who collect benefits based on the earnings records of others. For instance, the children and ex-spouses of current SSD recipients qualify to receive their own dependent’s or spouse’s benefits. These benefits often cease if the ex-spouse or child marries.
Children may collect benefits based on the earnings records of their disabled parents under three circumstances:
- The child is younger than 18.
- The child is between ages 18 and 19 and enrolled in secondary school.
- The child is older than 18 and suffers from a disability that developed before age 22.
When children who are not disabled get married at any age, they lose eligibility for dependent’s benefits. However, if disabled children marry other disabled Americans who also qualify for SSD benefits, both individuals may be able to keep their benefits.
An individual may be able to collect benefits based off of the earnings record of an ex-spouse, even if the individual remarried after the separation. However, the later marriage must have ended in annulment, dissolution or death before the original ex-spouse became disabled. People who presently collect benefits based on the earnings record of a disabled ex-spouse lose their entitlement to benefits if they choose to remarry.
In the event of an ex-spouse’s death, the surviving spouse may be able to continue collecting survivors benefits after remarrying. If the surviving spouse remarries after age 60, eligibility for survivors benefits is not affected. A surviving spouse who is disabled may marry again after age 50 without losing survivors benefits. The SSA requires the disability in question to have started before or within 7 years of the ex-spouse’s death.
People who collect SSD benefits based on their own earnings records can marry without any impact on their benefits. SSD benefits are not based on financial need. Thus, the new spouse’s financial standing, income or status as an SSD benefit recipient is irrelevant.
People who collect SSD benefits off of another individual’s earning record may benefit from meeting with an SSD attorney before getting married. An attorney can help a benefit recipient understand how this change in living situation could affect SSD eligibility.