You and your spouse can apply for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits if you’re both disabled. If your applications are approved, you can both get full benefits. If you don’t qualify, you can try the SSA's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. You won’t get the maximum benefit amount there as individuals get more than married couples.
Social Security Disability
It doesn't hurt to apply for the benefits, but it may help to know what makes the grade. You'll only be considered if were disabled after you established a set number of work credits according to your age. You need not apply either if you weren't paying into Social Security while you were employed. They'll also rule you out if your disability can be considered short term. The money is only for people with medical conditions that keep them sidelined for more than a year, or if they have something considered terminal. If you pass, Social Security will send you monthly payments based on your earnings history.
The SSA continues to pay disability benefits while you and your spouse are working. If you make too much, that can reduce your benefits since the SSA has income guidelines. As of 2012, the earnings couldn't top $1,010 per month or $1,690 if you’re blind. These figures are based on individual earnings; the reduction would only hurt your benefits, not those of your partner.
If you have taxable income, the IRS taxes both of your benefits if the total household income exceeds the tax agency’s limits. As of 2012, up to 50 percent of the benefits were taxed at normal income tax rates if the annual household income exceeded $32,000. If the combined household income surpassed $44,000 per year, 85 percent was taxed.
Supplemental Security Income
Unlike the Social Security disability program, you don’t need work credits or work histories to qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits. That program, which is for low-income disabled or elderly individuals, uses federal guidelines to fix its payments. The catch is couples don't get the full amount. As of 2012, married partners got a combined $1,048 per month, or 25 percent less than what they would have taken in if they were singles living together.
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