If you’re relying on your spouse’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI), every penny counts.
It can come as quite a shock to learn that when you were finally approved for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), the Social Security Administration (SSA) took away your spouse’s SSI. Suddenly, you’re back to relying on just one form of Social Security income.
How Are DIB and SSI Related?
You might find it odd that your approval for one program can affect your spouse’s approval for another.
DIB and SSI are two separate programs, but the SSA runs them both. Each program has different criteria for approval:
- Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB): This program is for people who have been employed long enough to acquire “insured status.” While they were working, they paid Social Security taxes, earning “quarters of coverage” or “work credits.” They paid into the system of Social Security, so that means they’re eligible to receive payment from that system. If individuals were employed at least five out of the last 10 years before becoming disabled, they can apply for DIB once they can no longer work. Usually, DIB receivers are too young for regular Social Security retirement benefits.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This is a needs-based program, not work-based. To qualify for SSI, you must meet certain asset and income limitations. SSI is not based on past employment, and you can qualify without ever having worked. The amount you earn each month can fluctuate depending on how much income the rest of your household is bringing in.
An overpayment occurs when the SSA accidentally pays you more than you have earned. This can be caused by changes in:
- Living situation
- Marital status
- Disability status
Occasionally, the SSA may incorrectly determine your benefits because of incorrect or incomplete information.
The most likely cause of an overpayment, however, is failure to report a change in one of the above categories, on time or even at all. The SSA requires benefit recipients to report changes that might affect the amount for which they are qualified.
For SSI, changes in income include changes in household income, not just personal income.
If you are married, the SSA will want to know your spouse’s income status, assuming they are contributing to rent, mortgage, food, and/or utilities. That will offset your expenses and determine whether or not you are still eligible for SSI.
Although SSI and DIB are separate programs within the SSA, your approval for one may determine your spouse’s approval for another.