You’ve struggled for years with pain, mental exhaustion, doctor appointments, medications, and now the grueling Social Security disability process. But despite it all, your “person”, the peanut butter to your jelly, your bridge over troubled waters…. has been there with you through it all. And you two want to get married!
After sharing congratulations, your attorney says, “But wait, I have some bad news: getting married will probably affect your disability benefits, including medical insurance”. What?!
If you are receiving benefits under the Disabled Adult Child (DAC) Social Security program, this impacts you! You qualified for benefits as a child because of genetic, developmental, intellectual, or serious injury reasons and will continue to receive those if your condition does not improve. However, if you marry a non-disabled person, current rules say your cash benefits can be reduced or eliminated and your medical insurance can be taken away as well. This is based on the idea that any income, assets, property, or shared medical insurance of your spouse is now available to you, eliminating the need for the government assistance.
In reality, this means you must choose between the ability to marry or in many cases, end up in poverty or without medical care. This “choice” is unfair, unreasonable, and some would argue, unconstitutional. Instead of a freedom to enjoy, marriage becomes a penalty.
New legislation to address at least a portion of this problem, including eliminating the requirement to be unmarried (or only marry another DAC recipient) and creating a new rule that if two DAC recipients marry, they can continue to receive their benefits as if unmarried. This bill is called The Marriage Equality for Disabled Adults Act and was introduced in the House in January 2022, but with no movement since.
Every case is unique, and the above information is only a generalized report on the issue of marriage and disability. Reach out to any of our attorneys if you have questions about your own case!