Eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability benefits can be convoluted and confusing. One of the most common questions asked is whether an individual can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments if you're married and your spouse is working. If your spouse is working, you may be a able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Social Security Disability (SSD) is designed to protect workers and their families. When one partner in a married relationship is unable to work, it may be extremely difficult to keep up with bills, mortgage payments and other financial obligations. Because of this, you may still receive SSDI even if your spouse is working.
Can My Spouse Work While I Receive Disability Benefits?
If you are receiving SSDI, then your spouse can work while you work receive benefits. SSDI is based on your own work record, not household income. Because of this, your spouse’s income from working will not impact your SSDI.
If you are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), then you may have trouble maintaining disability benefits while your spouse works. SSI is for those with an extreme financial need. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will evaluate your household income, including your spouse’s income. If your spouse’s income, your income, and assets exceed the SSA’s income limits for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), then your benefits may be reduced or even stopped.
Who Is Considered a Spouse?
If you are legally married and living together, then the SSA will consider your partner your spouse. However, if you live with a boyfriend or girlfriend but are not legally married, this is not considered to be a spouse in the SSA's eyes. Those in a civil union will also not be considered spouses by the SSA.
Qualifying for SSDI While Your Spouse Works
To receive SSDI, regardless of if your spouse is working, you must be eligible to receive SSDI. This means you must have a medical condition that is expected to last at least a year, or unfortunately, result in death. Some medical conditions qualify under the "Compassionate Allowances" and enable individuals to instantly qualify for benefits. Check the SSA's Blue Book to see if you qualify medically.
An individual applying for Social Security Disability must have worked long enough to pay into the Social Security tax system in order to qualify for disability. Under such regulations, nonworking spouses may collect benefits, but only if the working spouse has worked long enough under the Social Security system to qualify for benefits.
The longer you work, the more you pay into the system. Therefore, a disabled spouse applying for Social Security Disability Insurance may have a greater chance of receiving benefits in such a situation because either they, or their spouses, have paid into the system longer. The timeframe for employment taxes paid to the system differ by age groups. For example, a person approximately 28 years of age needs to have worked roughly 1.5 years, paying taxes the entire time. On the other hand, a 50-year-old may need up to seven years of employment and payment of taxes into the system to qualify.
In many cases, a disabled spouse who has not worked the recommended number of years to qualify for SSDI benefits may not qualify to receive SSDI, although each case scenario may be different. In situations where SSDI is denied, disabled spouses may apply for SSI, or Supplementary Security Income.
For specific information regarding your case, condition and expectations, it is suggested that you visit your local Social Security office and speak to a case agent or representative regarding your concerns and questions.
Qualifying with Your Spouse’s Income
In some cases, a disabled spouse may receive up to 50% of calculated benefits based on the working spouse's employment history at the age of 62 or older. However, spouses may receive benefits regardless of age if they're disabled and caring for minors under 16 years old.
Keep in mind that it may take up to six months for a Social Security Disability Insurance application to process. After that, you may need to wait an additional five months for the mandatory "waiting period" before benefits start paying out. The Social Security Administration suggests individuals who become disabled apply for disability benefits immediately.
Each case is based individually according to rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration. Complete information, supporting medical documentation and details regarding your spouse's work history are essential in making such decisions.
Get Help With Your SSDI Claim
If you need assistance with your SSDI claim, a lawyer may be able to help. An attorney can help determine how your spouse's income can affect your claim.
Most disability attorneys work on contingency fees, which means they are not paid until you receive your benefits. Complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney that subscribes to the website.