Can Married Couples Who Are Both Disabled Draw Full Social Security Benefits?

Most people count on their ability to earn an income. If your ability to earn an income has become compromised due to a disability, though, there is help. The Social Security Administration offers benefits to those who are disabled and unable to work. They can also assist while you’re transitioning back to work.

Tip

A husband and wife who are both disabled can draw full Social Security disability benefits, although they may have to pay taxes on the benefits depending on their level of income.

Filing for Social Security Disability as Husband and Wife

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you need to be unable to do the work you did before, unable to adjust to doing other work and your disability has to be expected to last at least one year or result in death.

You also need to have earned the minimum number of credits, which in most cases is 40 credits, although younger people need fewer credits to qualify. Your credits are based on your earnings, and you can earn up to four credits per year. As of 2018, you could earn one credit for each $1,320 you earn in income.

If you and your spouse are both disabled, you will each need to file for benefits. You can apply online, by calling Social Security or by visiting a local Social Security office. Social Security disability for a spouse can also be paid if only one spouse is disabled. For example, if you receive SSDI, your spouse can receive up to 50 percent of your benefit amount in addition to what you receive.

Exceptions to Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

If both you and your spouse qualify for SSDI, there is no Social Security disability and marriage penalty. Both of you will receive full benefits. If only one of you qualifies, the other can receive a benefit based on the qualifying spouse starting at age 62.

If the non-disabled spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, though, that may impact her benefits from the disabled spouse’s disability income. Social Security will pay based on the non-disabled spouse's own record first, so if she qualified for Social Security on her own and that payment is higher than what she would receive based on her spouse, she will receive the higher of the two benefits.

For example, if the disabled spouse earns $1,000 per month from SSDI, a non-disabled spouse can be paid up to 50 percent, or $500 per month, starting at age 62. If the non-disabled spouse qualifies for Social Security on her own and her benefit amount is $600 per month, she will receive $600 per month. It will not be combined with her disabled spouse’s benefits.

The benefit amount will also be reduced until she reaches her full retirement age. Your full retirement age is based on your year of birth. If you were born after 1960, for example, your full retirement age is 67.

Social Security Disability on 2018 Taxes

You and your spouse’s SSDI income may be taxable depending on your total income. To determine if any of your benefits are taxable, you compare half of your SSDI benefits plus any additional income to a base amount determined by your filing status.

If you’re single, the base amount is $25,000. If you’re married filing jointly, the base amount is $32,000. If you’re married and filing jointly and you both receive benefits, you need to look at half of the total benefits you both receive plus any additional income. If it exceeds $32,000, you will need to pay taxes on a portion of your benefits.

You can determine the exact amount you owe using the IRS Social Security tax calculator or by using Form 1040.

Social Security Disability on 2017 Taxes

The same benefit calculations were used for 2017 and 2018 taxes. If you are married and filing jointly, a portion of your benefits will be taxed if half of your benefits plus your income exceeds $32,000.

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About the Author

Melinda Hill Sineriz is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her work has appeared on Pocket Sense and Sapling. She specializes in business, personal finance, and career writing. She has worked in insurance sales and financial planning, helping families to manage their money and prepare for the future. Learn more about her and her work at thatmelinda.com.