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Social Security disability benefits extend to spouses

For many Georgia residents there is no one more trusted and familiar than a spouse. Spouses depend on each other in many different ways, including not only for emotional support and companionship, but financial support as well.

Another important source of financial assistance for many individuals is Social Security Disability benefits. With this in mind, many individuals who are getting married or who are already married may have questions about how their marriage will affect their Social Security Disability benefits. Individuals who need benefits are often worried about qualifying for the benefits and knowing how they can obtain the maximum benefit under their personal circumstances.

Typically, an individual will not see Social Security disability benefits adversely affected by a marriage. On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income could be impacted in that it is means-tested, along with other forms of government assistance like food stamps.

On the plus side, a disabled person's spouse has spousal benefits that begin starting at age 62. This means the spouse will be able to collect benefits on the disabled person's earnings record at that time, albeit at a reduced level at age 62. In order to qualify for spousal benefits, the couple must be married for one year.

The spouse also can begin receiving survivor benefits at age 60. In order to qualify for survivor benefits, the marriage needs to have lasted at least nine months before death.

Accordingly, married couples should understand how benefits are awarded under the federal regulations. By having this understanding, disabled individuals and their spouses can obtain the benefits that are often sorely needed.

Source: Forbes, "Social Security Q&A: How will marriage affect my disability benefit?," Laurence Kotlikoff, March 1, 2015

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