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Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at


2122. Marriage

2122.1 How does marriage affect SSI benefits?

Marriage helps determine whether:

  1. There is an eligible couple (rather than two eligible individuals);

  2. The rules for deeming income and resources apply if a spouse is not eligible (see §2167); or

  3. An individual under age 22 is a child who qualifies for special income exclusions.

2122.2 When are a man and woman considered married?

A man and woman are married for SSI purposes if:

  1. They are living in the same household and are married under the laws of their State;

  2. They are holding themselves out as husband and wife to the community in which they live; or

  3. One is entitled, as the spouse of the other, to Social Security benefits.

2122.3 When does SSA evaluate the existence of a marriage?

We generally evaluate the existence of a marriage as of the first day of a month. However, there are exceptions:

  1. If both members of an eligible couple file an application in the same month, we evaluate couple status for that month on the first day of the month following the date the application is filed; and

  2. If both members of a formerly eligible couple seek reinstatement as a couple in the same month, we evaluate couple status for that month as of the latest request for reinstatement.

2122.4 Who is considered the spouse if marriage status changes?

The spouse you were living with at the beginning of a month is your spouse for SSI purposes, regardless of changes later in the month. For example, a "holding-out" spouse with whom you are living takes precedence over a legally married spouse from whom you are separated.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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There are 13 Comments

He has been married 22 years, has been seperated for 15, wife is blind, 63 and receives ssdi, he is mentely defiecieant and gets ssi, if they resume living together how are their benifits changed?

I am currently on disability, I am a 59 y/o female and started receiving my disability on December 3, 2008. My came is Pearl M and you email address is plm__ @ I know that you can collect social security on a former husband at the age of 62. My question is: since I am on disability, can I sign up for social security from my former spouse now instead of waiting til I turn 62? And is I can, how do I go about filing for it? Thanks for your help.

My boyfriend does not work he's very sick.
I am disabled with multiple sclerosis,my boyfriend take care of me.He does my laundry,breakfast,lunch,diner and accompany me everywhere.I also have a brain tumor and I'm very boyfriend comes everyday to see me and leaves question is if I get married to him will I lose my SSI.
I'm very confuse.

Please seek further advice on this. Things may vary depending on your situation.

Here is an excerpt from a 2003 Issue Paper on this :

In the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, for example, two recipients married to each other receive a benefit that is one-quarter less than if they simply lived together but not as husband and wife.


Yes, marriage may affect your SSI benefits, especially if your spouse brings in income of any form. Here is an excerpt from a 2008 report which investigated potential fraud regarding unreported marriages among SSI recipients :

The amount of a recipient's SSI payment is based on many factors, including marital status. Generally, SSA relies on SSI recipients to voluntarily report any changes in their marital status or living arrangements. For example, a marriage could affect the deeming of income from a spouse not receiving SSI to the SSI recipient. When both members of a couple receive SSI payments and live together, they receive a lower payment amount as a couple rather than as two individuals. When one individual receives SSI payments, the spouse's income-whether from earnings or OASDI benefits-is deemed available to meet the recipient's needs. Based on the amount, such income may reduce or eliminate the individual's SSI payments.

For SSI purposes, a marital relationship is one in which members of the opposite sex are legally married under the laws of the State where they have their permanent home or living together in the same household and holding themselves out as husband and wife to the community in which they live.

my bofried takes cair of me drives me evrywhere cooks he works and dose eveything in the home i want to make him my power of atterny will that afic me going on ssi and what i get. we were told if i make him my power of attrny he gets payed for taking cair of me

Here is an excerpt which may be helpful :

Power of attorney is a legal process where one individual grants a third party the authority to transact certain business for that individual. It does not diminish the rights of the individual and does not usually grant the third party the right to manage the individual's assets. It typically makes no finding about the individual’s capability or competence and is not recognized by the Treasury Department for the purposes of negotiating federal payments, including Social Security or SSI checks.

Therefore, if you are a power of attorney for a beneficiary who is found incapable of managing their own benefits, you must still file an application to serve as rep payee.

My boyfriend and I are both past 62 and receiving SS. He on his railroad retirement and my on my deceased husbans's record. Will either one of our monthly payments be reduced or will they remain the same if we get married?

Please contact the SSA to confirm for your particular case, but here is a relevant excerpt :

If you remarry after age 60 (50 if disabled), you can still collect benefits on your former spouse's record. When you reach age 62 or older, you may get retirement benefits on the record of your new spouse if they are higher.

Your remarriage would have no effect on the benefits being paid to your children.

I am on SSI and Disability, My boyfriend and I want to know if we get married , how will that affect our benefits, he is applying for retirement benefits, he is 64 years of age?

You should contact Social Security directly before marriage to see what effect it will have on your benefits.

The following document indicates your disability payments may continue without issue, but for "any other kind of benefits your benefits will stop when you get married."

Also see here for potential effect of marriage on SSI benefits :

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