As life progresses many people find a need for a safety net and that’s exactly why the Social Security Administration (SSA) exists. One of the big questions that comes up regarding SSA benefits is what happens if a person is already married when they start receiving benefits, or what happens if they get married after they’ve started receiving them.
Old Age and SSDI Benefits
For most people they receive their social security benefits after they have worked a majority of their life and they have reached the eligible age to start receiving payments from the program. The way the benefit is qualified for is by completing 40 annual quarters of work. That breaks down to 10 years of work total while meeting the minimum earning requirement established by the SSA.
While there are two forms of disability insurance the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is similarly based on credit for how much time has been spent working. The minimum eligibility for SSDI requires that 5 years worth of time must have been spent working during the past 10 years. This is the equivalent of 20 credits for quarters worked. Depending on age, the minimum requirement changes for this benefit so it’s important to verify with the SSA if a person qualifies.
Since the old age benefit and SSDI are based on a person’s work history then marriage status will not impact those social security benefit programs.
Survivors and SSI
If a person is receiving Social Security benefits based on their income, or from being a survivor after someone they were dependent on passed away, then marriage can impact the benefit. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is based on the family income of an individual with a disability. A spouse’s income counts as part of that income, and if the combined income of the spouse and the beneficiary rises above the qualification level then benefits may be terminated. If two people that are both receiving SSI marry, then the rates change for each individual and they will receive a couple’s rate.
Likewise, if someone is receiving survivor benefits, that can be changed if they marry as well. If an individual is receiving survivor benefits from a spouse that died, then if they remarry before the age of 60 the benefits will not be approved. If the benefits are being granted after a divorce, or if they were benefits received by a disabled child that is under the age of 18 then the benefit will end if they get married. Marriage is a life changing event, before going forward with it, or if questions persist about benefits, then the best thing to do is speak to the SSA or an experienced attorney to find out the correct answers for any individual case.