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Does marriage affect your Supplemental Security Income benefits?

When a New Jersey resident is blind, disabled or at least 65 years old and has limited income, it may be possible to pursue Supplemental Security Income. There are, however, important points to remember when applying for SSI benefits. Some could have an impact on eligibility and more. Knowing about these factors before applying for benefits or when facing a sticking point during the application process can give the person a chance to address the situation and possibly be approved for SSI. One issue is how being married can influence SSI.

When a person is married, the Social Security Administration will determine the following: if the couple is eligible instead of being assessed as individuals; the rules as to how income is deemed and if the resources affect eligibility; or if it is a person under age 22 who meets the requirements for exclusion based on special income. People are viewed as married when they reside in the same household and are married under state law; when they present themselves as a married couple to others in the community; or when one of the couple, as the other's spouse, can get Social Security benefits.

The Social Security Administration will evaluate whether there is a marriage at the beginning of every month. There are exceptions to this rule. If both people in the marriage are eligible and file for SSI in the same month, the SSA will evaluate their status for the month on the first day after they have applied. Second, if both people in the marriage were previously eligible and seek to be reinstated as a couple that month, the status of their marriage will be assessed based on the latest request to be reinstated. If the status of being married changes, the spouse with whom the person lived at the start of the month is the spouse when determining eligibility for SSI benefits. This is independent of changes that came about later in the month.

Marriage is just one of the factors that can affect SSI benefits. If one's marital status is a concern when seeking benefits or there is anything else that might need to be addressed when applying for benefits, professional guidance can help.

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