Can I Still Receive Social Security Disability Benefits If I Get Married?

by Rod Howell

    Marriage doesn’t disqualify you from getting Social Security disability benefits. Your eligibility remains intact and benefit amounts won’t change. The addition of family members, though, might affect your Social Security benefit in several ways. More people may be entitled to benefits based on your record. And the Internal Revenue Service may tax your benefits based on any additional household incomes.

    When you get married, your spouse gets disability spousal benefits once he satisfies several requirements. The Social Security Administration requires your marriage to last at least one year continuously for your spouse to become eligible. Your spouse also has to be 62 years old or older to qualify or any age if caring for your minor or disabled children. Your spouse cannot be eligible for higher Social Security benefits on his own record. If your spouse is eligible for spousal benefits, the amount he receives is half of your entitled benefit.

    Your spouse’s children also can get half of your entitled disability benefit amount. Your stepchildren have to be 16 years old or younger or 18 or 19 years old and in high school to receive benefit checks. Stepchildren who are disabled before reaching age 22 also qualify for disability benefits. The Social Security Administration limits the amount your entire family receives to 150 to 180 percent of your benefit amount. If your family's payments would exceed the maximum, each person’s check is reduced proportionately.

    If you or your spouse are working or have other taxable incomes, the combined amounts could cause your benefits to become taxable. The IRS taxes your Social Security benefits if the total household income exceeds income guidelines. As of 2012, up to 50 percent of your Social Security benefits are taxed at normal income tax rates if your annual household income tops $32,000. Up to 85 percent of your benefits are taxed if your household income surpasses $44,000 per year.

    If your spouse is eligible for other Social Security benefits such as retirement benefits, you may be able to receive spousal benefits on her record instead. The Social Security Administration pays your benefit first, but if you’re entitled to higher benefits on your spouse’s record, you would get a combination of benefits from both records to equal the higher amount.

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    About the Author

    Rod Howell is a writer living in Charlotte, N.C. He graduated from Thaddeus Stevens College with an associate degree in administration in 2000. He published the book "Capitol Conspiracy" and regularly contributes to a blog as well as various other websites, drawing frequently from his experience as an insurance agent.

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