In general, both spouses can get Social Security Disability at the same time. However, because each disability benefit program has its own qualifications, some programs make this much easier than others.
It is possible for couples to both draw Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, providing they otherwise meet each program’s requirements.
The disability lawyers at Berger and Green can help you determine if you and your spouse both qualify for benefits. We will take a detailed look at your work history and financial information to check if your family qualifies for monthly benefits from SSI or SSDI. Call 412-661-1400 today for a free consultation.
When Can Both Spouses Get Disability Benefits at the Same Time?
The only way you and your spouse can both draw disability at the same time is if you both qualify under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) rules. You both must have a disability that prevents you from working, is likely to last at least a year, or will lead to your death.
To prove you meet these requirements, you and your spouse will need medical evidence to show you meet the criteria under one of the SSA’s impairment listings. This evidence often includes:
- Your medical records;
- Treatment notes and outcomes;
- Medical imaging scans;
- Lab testing results; and
- Other important information regarding your abilities or prognosis.
If you do not meet the specific criteria in a listing, you may qualify based on a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. This assessment uses a review of your medical evidence, an evaluation by your doctor, or an evaluation from an SSA doctor to determine your ability to work. If the assessment shows you cannot work, you will likely qualify for benefits—assuming you meet the SSA’s other criteria.
Both you and your spouse will need to discuss your condition with your doctor and ensure they run all required tests. Your doctor plays a key role in documenting your impairment, which is at the center of winning approval for disability benefits.
How Can My Spouse and I Meet the Eligibility Requirements for SSDI?
As long as you both can prove you suffer an impairment that prevents you from working, you can both probably draw SSDI. The SSA reviews your qualifying criteria on their own merits. Your spouse’s impairment, income, or other factors do not affect your application.
It is also important to note that SSDI helps bridge the gap between the time you suffer an impairment that prevents you from working and the date you can draw Social Security retirement benefits. Because of the nature of the program, the SSA requires you to work long enough to earn a certain number of work credits based on your age. Both you and your spouse will need to have sufficient individual work histories to qualify for SSDI benefits.
If you or your spouse are still doing some work it must be under the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit that considers only the money earned from working a job. If neither of you can work—or you work in only an extremely limited capacity—you should meet this requirement. Since your SGA does not include income not earned through working, you may qualify for disability even if you have additional household income from investments, retirement, or other sources.
What If We Do Not Qualify for SSDI?
Both spouses can get approved for SSI as long as they are disabled and the household income meets Social Security requirements.
SSI is a need-based program. Only those with extremely low incomes and few assets are eligible for benefits. Unlike SSDI, which looks at only an individual’s earned income, SSI considers almost any income that comes into your household. This would include your spouse’s SSDI or SSI payments. If both spouses are on SSI each will get a reduced amount because there is an SSI limit for spouses living together.
Depending on your situation, you could even lose your current SSI benefits if your spouse gets SSDI. The additional income could push you over the cut off for SSI.
If your spouse qualifies for SSDI but you lack the necessary work history—but you meet the other program qualifications—it may be possible to get approval for SSI if you meet the income and resources guidelines. Our attorneys can determine if you qualify in this situation.
How Can I Discuss My Situation With a Disability Lawyer?
If your spouse already receives disability benefits and you believe you may also qualify, the legal team from Berger and Green can help. We can explain how your approval could affect your family’s current benefits and look over your application before you file your claim. If the SSA denied your benefits, we can look into why and fight for the monthly payments and back benefits you deserve. Call us at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.