Because Social Security disability (SSD) benefits are calculated using a factored equation and include work credits in the analysis of eligibility, getting married can have an impact on the amount of monthly benefits you’ll receive in the future or even whether or not you will remain eligible to receive benefits.
The biggest influence of marriage on SSD benefits comes from how it changes your life circumstances. When you were approved for SSD benefits, your life circumstances were taken into account by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This includes not only your financial status and earnings or income, but also your living situation and other factors. For this reason, marriage can change your eligibility, dependent upon how different your new life circumstances will be as opposed to those under which you initially qualified for SSD benefits.
Understanding how marriage may affect your SSD benefits requires you to understand the basics of how SSD eligibility is determined. While medical status and the presence of a clearly diagnosed and defined, severely limiting disability is necessary to qualify for SSD benefits, so are sufficient work credits.
Work credits are essentially a contribution to the Social Security fund through payroll deduction. For this reason, anyone who qualifies for SSD benefits must qualify under work credits as either:
- a disabled worker who previously contributed to the Social Security fund, or
- as a dependent of a worker who has over the course of their employment history contributed to that fund.
In other words, when you initially qualified for SSD benefits, you did so because either you, your spouse at the time, or your parent met the work credit requirements for you to receive disability benefits. The manner in which marriage may affect your SSD benefits is dependent upon how you qualified for work credits with your initial SSD application.
Here’s how marriage may affect your benefits dependent upon how your life circumstances will change:
You Qualified Under Your Own Work Credits
If you are a disabled worker who paid into the SSD fund through payroll deductions prior to becoming disabled, then your marriage will not affect your eligibility for benefit payments or the amount of benefits you receive on a monthly basis. This is true regardless of your future spouse’s employment status or earnings.
You Qualified with Work Credits as a Dependent
There are instances in which dependents (widows/widowers, adult children, spouses and even ex-spouses) of disabled workers qualify to receive benefit payments through the SSD system. If you are the beneficiary of a disabled worker’s SSD, then you may lose your own benefits after getting married.
Whether or not you remain eligible for benefits depends on how you’re related to the individual under whose work credits you initially qualified for benefits. Following you will find additional details explaining how marriage will affect your continued eligibility for benefits based on your relationship with the worker.
- Disabled Adult Child
If you are a disabled adult child of a worker (whether disabled or currently working), then you may receive disability benefits under their work credits with the SSD system. If you get married, you will no longer qualify for benefits. There is one potential exception to this rule. Under some circumstances, two disabled adult children who currently receive SSD benefits under their parents’ work credits can sometimes continue to both receive benefits even after getting married.
- Ex-Spouse of a Living or Deceased Worker
If you are currently receiving SSD benefits under your ex-wife or husband’s work credits, then getting remarried will end your eligibility for benefits. The same is true if you initially qualified under the work credits of an ex-spouse who is deceased.