Do My Disability Benefits Remain Intact If I Get Married?

Whether getting married will affect your Social Security disability benefits depends on the type of benefits you receive.

By , Attorney Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated by Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney UC Law San Francisco
Updated 5/02/2024

The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays several types of disability benefits. Some are for unmarried family members of a disabled person (so marriage will make the person ineligible for benefits). If your SSDI benefits are based on your own work record, getting married or divorced won't affect your eligibility or monthly payments. But changes to your marital status can affect the benefits you receive as a family member (dependent), as well as any SSI disability you get.

Let's take a closer look at Social Security's marriage rules for those receiving disability benefits.

Marriage and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are for disabled workers who've paid taxes into the Social Security system for multiple years. To receive SSDI, you have to meet Social Security's definition of disabled, but it doesn't matter if you're married or not. Getting married won't ever affect the SSDI benefits you collect based on your own disability and your own earnings record.

However, dependents of a disabled worker can sometimes receive SSDI dependent or survivor benefits based on the disabled worker's earning record. To collect some of these dependents' benefits, you must be unmarried.

Social Security Widows and Widowers Benefits

Widows and widowers can lose their SSDI survivors benefits if they remarry, depending on their age. Surviving spouses who are disabled and apply for disabled widows' benefits will be denied if they remarry before they turn 50. Surviving spouses who aren't disabled can remarry after they turn 60 years old and receive their survivor benefits.

If you're caring for your deceased spouse's child (under age 16 or disabled), the marriage rule doesn't apply to you. For more information, see our article on SSDI benefits for the spouse of a disabled worker.

Divorced Spouse's SSDI Benefit as a Dependent

A divorced spouse who was married for at least ten years to a worker who is entitled to Social Security disability or retirement benefits can receive Social Security benefits based on the disabled worker's record. You have to wait until they are at least 62 years old or older to claim these benefits. But if you're receiving divorced spouse's benefits and you remarry at any age, you'll lose these benefits.

Divorced Spouse's Survivors Benefit

Like a surviving spouse, the ex-spouse of a deceased worker (who was insured for benefits) can receive Social Security survivors benefits. To qualify, you must have been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years, be unmarried, and be 60 years old or older, or at least 50 years old and disabled.

You'll lose these benefits if you remarry before a certain age. Social Security will ignore the new marriage if you remarry after age 60 (or after age 50 if disabled) or if your new marriage ends before your ex-spouse's death.

You can also qualify for survivors benefits if you're caring for your ex-spouse's child (under age 16), no matter how old you are. (They're called mother's or father's benefits in this situation.) Marriage won't affect these benefits.

For more information on benefits for ex-spouses, see our article on survivors benefits for the divorced spouses.

SSDI Children's Benefits

Children who receive SSDI benefits on the record of a parent will lose these benefits if they get married. Here are the specifics:

Unmarried children or stepchildren of a disabled worker can receive SSDI dependents benefits until they turn 18 (19 if a full-time high-school student) or until they get married—whichever occurs earlier.

An unmarried adult child with a disability can receive benefits based on a disabled parent's work record (assuming the child's disability began before age 22). The SSDI benefits will continue until the adult child recovers from the disability or gets married. In some circumstances, a disabled adult child can marry another disabled adult child without either person losing benefits.

For more information on children's SSDI benefits, see our article on benefits for children of disabled parents.

Will I Lose My Medicare Benefits If I Get Married?

You should be eligible for Medicare two years after your "date of entitlement" to receive SSDI benefits. Your date of entitlement is the date Social Security says you were first disabled and eligible for benefits (up to a year before you applied for SSDI).

Marriage doesn't affect Medicare eligibility, so you won't lose your benefits if you get married.

Learn more about the health benefits you can get with Social Security disability.

Marrying While Receiving Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program for people with disabilities who didn't pay enough into the Social Security system to be eligible for SSDI. Both married and unmarried people can receive SSI disability benefits if they meet the program's income and resource limits.

Social Security won't terminate your eligibility for SSI benefits simply because of marriage. But getting married can affect your SSI disability benefits.

If you get married (and live with your new spouse) while receiving SSI disability, Social Security will count some of your new spouse's income as available to you (by what's called "deeming income"). If your spouse makes a fair amount of income, your deemed income would likely exceed the limit, and you'd lose your SSI disability benefits.

Your spouse doesn't have to have much income for your marriage to affect your SSI benefit. The amount changes every year, but for 2024, if your non-disabled spouse earns more than $472 per month in countable income (the SSI couple's income limit minus the individual income limit), your spouse's income will be deemed partially available to you.

Social Security has a very complicated formula for deeming spousal income. In a nutshell, if you and your spouse have a combined "countable" income (after certain sizeable deductions) that's more than $1,415 per month (in 2024), you'll be ineligible for SSI. To learn exactly how much income is deemed, read our article on how a spouse's income affects your SSI payment.

Reporting Your New Marriage to Social Security

If you're receiving disability benefits, you're required to notify Social Security of changes to your living situation or marital status by the 10th day of the month after you get married, divorced, or moved. If you don't tell Social Security that you've gotten married and the agency finds out, you could lose your disability benefits. And failing to report your marriage could result in an overpayment that Social Security will require you to repay. Learn more about overpayments.

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