We Need to Talk About Disability and the ‘Marriage Penalty’

By Carolanne Monteleone: For Complete Post, Click Here…

The Marriage Penalty

Most government assistance programs are income-driven and you only qualify if you make below a certain annual income. If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicare, you’re cut off once you get married. It’s important to note that I am not talking about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which has a whole different set of rules.

After you’re married, your spouse’s income is counted as yours and disqualifies you from assistance. Earned income (any money you make) and unearned income (any money your spouse makes) both factor into what you receive for SSI and your Medicaid eligibility. So, if your spouse works, you become ineligible for assistance. That means no more monthly checks to help you pay for daily necessities, rent, food, etc. and no more insurance through Medicare and Medicaid, even if your spouse doesn’t have insurance. How can the government cut someone off from a program they obviously need and rely on?

Marriage or Healthcare: Pick One

This financial burden creates an unimaginable amount of stress on a couple. As a disabled person, you must make a choice: be legally married to the love of your life and be straddled with an obscene amount of medical bills forever, or never marry and continue to receive assistance. Most couples don’t have the privilege of making that choice. It’s simply impossible to pay out of pocket what was once covered by SSI, Medicare and/or Medicaid. Unless your spouse is incredibly wealthy and can afford the thousands of dollars each month in related medical bills, losing assistance is crushing.

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