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Eligible Couples

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

2123. Eligible Couples

2123.1 What is the income and resources limit for an eligible couple?

The income and resources limits for an eligible couple are higher, but less than twice the individual's limit. The couple's eligibility is established by comparing their combined countable income and resources with the applicable couple's limits.

2123.2 How is a couple's benefit computed?

An eligible couple's federal benefit is the difference between:

  1. The combined countable income of both members; and

  2. The couple's FBR.

Whatever benefit is due an eligible couple is usually paid in two equal payments, one to each spouse.

2123.3 When does "couple" status end?

The members of an eligible couple continue to be treated as such until:

  1. The marriage ends through death, divorce, or annulment; or

  2. The members of the couple begin living apart.

2123.4 How does SSA recognize a couple who shares a room in an institution?

We consider the members of an eligible couple who share a room in an institution as separated. We treat them as two eligible individuals for purposes of determining eligibility and payment amount.

Last Revised: March, 2001

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