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Deeming from an Ineligible Spouse to an Eligible Individual

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

2168. Deeming from an Ineligible Spouse to an Eligible Individual

2168.1 How are income and resources deemed from an ineligible spouse to an eligible individual?

When an eligible individual lives in the same household with an ineligible spouse, the income and resources of the ineligible spouse are deemed available to the eligible individual. If there are ineligible children under age 21 in the household, an allocation for their living allowance is provided. A living allowance is also provided for the ineligible spouse.

2168.2 When does deeming NOT apply?

Deeming does not apply when the eligible individual is not in the same household as the ineligible spouse unless:

  1. The absence is temporary; or

  2. The ineligible spouse is absent from the household due only to a duty assignment as a member of the armed forces on active duty.

2168.3 What income is excluded?

Certain types of income are excluded when determining the income to be deemed from the ineligible spouse. They are listed in §2167.3. Also, there are additional exclusions provided based on whether the ineligible spouse receives earned or unearned income.

2168.4 Can deeming result in a higher payment?

Under spouse-to-spouse deeming, an individual can never receive a higher payment with deeming than would be received if deeming was not done. If deeming does apply, the ineligible spouse's income is combined with the income of the eligible individual and compared to the FBR for a couple (see §2147).

2168.5 What resources are excluded?

The same resource exclusions that apply to an eligible individual apply to an eligible individual with an ineligible spouse, but two additional exclusions explained in §2168.3 above apply to an ineligible spouse. The resources of the eligible individual and the ineligible spouse are counted together and compared to the resource limit for a couple (see §2166).

Last Revised: Nov. 3, 2003

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