So, I'm engaged…

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    • #23407
      David the Gnome
      • Total Posts: 3,230

      I haven’t posted anything here for a while – am hoping for JPR 4.0 to liven things up, but…

      My girlfriend and I are engaged – tentatively planning a wedding for late September.  The problem is… I do not yet know how it’s going to effect my SSI benefits.  I suspect that the result will greatly reduce them – but I do not know (and no one I have asked seems able to tell me) if it will eliminate them completely.  I recently (about a week ago) moved in with her, about 45 miles away from my old home.  I called SSI, the postal service, the DMV, filled out address change forms online and told who (I think) I had to, but though I am going to be paying my fair share of expenses and helping with everything (paying about 350 a month towards it all, total – car costs 200 – so it’s a bit more than I actually get each month) SSI has not told me whether my payment will increase from 514 to the max – 771.

      Whether it does or not – with SSI, when you get married a portion of your spouse’s income is “deemed” to you (basically, their income is counted as being your income, as well) and the formula used by social security to determine how much – and whether or not you keep your benefits, is complex.  I’ve tried for over a month to get ahold of the lawyer who represented me in my SSI case – can’t get a call back, a text, nothing.  I’ve left messages on his voice mail, with his secretary, but…

      So I tried calling social security and asking them, they were unable to tell me specifically, I was told (weeks ago now) that a case worker would call me back to discuss it.  Well, no call yet.  My fiancé (understandably) wants to make plans… like yesterday – and we are discussing them, invitations, who to invite, how big the wedding will be, honeymoon ideas/expenses, etc. but in the back of my mind is this panic “If I lose SSI, it won’t work, we won’t have enough”.

      She earns approximately 13.70 an hour, working full time.  So about 28.5K per year.  I suspect that might be too high for me to keep getting disability payments – but without them… without them I’d have to move back in with my parents.  So I’m not sure what to do, really.  She and I have known each other for about six years now, dated for a year and a half a few years ago – and got back together a little over a year ago, finally decided we wanted to get married.  I bought the engagement ring we picked out together – and am trying to plan out a romantic proposal, but…

      I don’t know if that would cost me my benefits.  If so, I am not ready to go back to work yet – I almost certainly will not be ready by the chosen marriage date in September.

      Does anyone here have any ideas?  I’ve googled so much and read so much on this that my eyes hurt – but can still not determine the answer.  She owns her own home, with a mortgage, I own a car, that I still owe about 1200 against (market value is probably 1500, if not less, it’s a 2008 ford focus), I don’t really have any assets worth mentioning.  She has an account with a thousand dollars in it, a 401K, health insurance through work (she’s a CSR for a local heating oil/propane company) beyond that… there’s not much.

      Does anyone know what the income limit would be for the two of us together for me to maintain any of my SSI benefit?  I’m really worried at this point that getting married just isn’t something you can do on disability, unless your intended is very, very poor.  Maybe there’s a loophole or something… I Don’t know.  Any advice, or information would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks for reading.

    • #23413
      Land of Enchantment
      • Total Posts: 741

      Congratulations David and Best Wishes to the future Mrs. Gnome! Happy news, indeed! All the best.

      I looked around the web and found these three links and think you may have quoted from one of them. There are some links embedded in the middle one that might be worth checking out…. Hope this helps!

      What Is the Income Limit for SSI?

      The income limit for the SSI program is based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). The federal benefit rate represents both the SSI income limit and the maximum federal monthly SSI payment. In 2019, the FBR is $771 per month for individuals and $1,157 for couples. (The FBR increases annually if there is a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.)

      To qualify for SSI, your countable monthly income cannot exceed the FBR. However, the SSA counts only some of your income when it determines whether your income is over the income limit. (This is called the earned income exclusion. Also, the SSA ignores some types of income altogether; see our article on what income counts toward the SSI limit.) For instance, if you are earning money from work, less than half of your monthly earnings are counted toward the income limit, so you can make more than $771 per month.

      And–there is this where you may qualify for a State Supplement:

      What Is a State Supplement?

      Most states add money to the federal SSI payment; this is called a state supplement. This means that the allowed income level, as well as the SSI payments, are higher than the federal maximums in those states. Every state except Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia has a state supplement.

      The amount of the state supplement varies between states, from $10 to $400. (The SSA manages the state supplement for some states; for those states, you can see the state supplement amounts on the SSA’s website.) In addition, the amount of the state supplement can depend on whether you are single or married and on your living arrangements. For instance, some states pay a supplement only to those living in a nursing home. For these reasons, unless you live in a state without a state supplement, it might be difficult for you to estimate whether your income falls under the SSI limit.

      “Hope is the feathered thing that perches in your heart.” ~ Emily Dickinson

    • #23415
      NV Wino
      • Total Posts: 7,989

      First, it’s ridiculous that you can’t get the information you need. That should be readily available on your state’s website or social security website.

      Second, unless she is willing to completely support you, live in sin.

      Seriously, David, you just got your life straightened out. Don’t jump into another situation to cause you more stress.

      “As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.” Barbara Lee
      “Politicians and pro athletes: The only people who still get paid when they lose.” William Rivers Pitt

      • #23487
        • Total Posts: 829

        I agree. Live in sin for the present time at least. Be engaged. Have a symbolic wedding maybe even.

        Animals know more than we do.

    • #23417
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 21,767

      Found this, David:

      Spouse’s salary $30,000 per year, no children
      Say your wife makes $2,500 per month at her job and has no other income, and you have no other income and no children. You have been approved for SSI. About $1,208 per month of your wife’s income will be deemed to you (($2,500-$85)/2). Subtracting that amount from the couple’s SSI rate of $1,157 leaves you with nothing. You would not be eligible for SSI because of your wife’s income.

      Looks like you wouldn’t get squat for SSI if you marry her. “Living in sin” is therefore the best financial option.


      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #23476
      David the Gnome
      • Total Posts: 3,230

      Living in sin is what my dad suggested too.  I was hoping that my lawyer or someone could find a way that we could get married without losing my income.  Well, it doesnt look like that’s going to be possible.  Thank you all for looking for me, and for caring.

      It will pass I am sure, but right now I feel extremely guilty and depressed.  Bought her the ring and everything.  Ironically, my lawyer called shortly after I wrote this and explained the “spousal income/deemed amount” thing better.  In short, no.  She makes too much.

      Had to explain it to her during her lunch break.  Breaks my stupid bleeding heart to see her cry.  She doesnt blame me, tells me it’s not my fault, but I feel guilty anyway.

      I could rage at the injustice, write letters, make phone calls, yell at the bean counters that determine funding for SSI and the rules for it.. maybe later I will.  Right now though…

      More sad than pissed off.  Maybe it won’t be forever, maybe in time I will find a way to make my own money.  Or maybe in the future we will take advantage of her dual citizenship (she needs to apply, but qualifies) in Canada.

      In the meantime, cant help thinking about those tax cuts for the rich.  The way Trump, Romney and their ilk call us all takers.  Perhaps one day, the American people will take back from them what they have taken from us.

      Thanks everyone.  Going to lay down for a while.

      • #23486
        • Total Posts: 829

        I would suggest having her apply for citizenship in Canada.You both might do better leaving this place if possible. Please check out the pros and cons of moving for you both. My heart goes out to you dear one. To be punished for doing what is right is wrong. Somehow I think it will all work out. Just a feeling. Be strong both of you.

        Animals know more than we do.

    • #43738
      Mr. Mickeys Mom
      • Total Posts: 6,204

      I know it’s a bit later, D the K, but I’m hoping that your initial sadness about this choice has had enough time to mellow to understand the wise advice here.

      Have a ceremony with that ring, as it is in the eyes of whatever source you recognize, a common law marriage with more benefits of loving each other as you see fit. Marriage is nothing but a contract from the State. True love transcends every process of life…

      Hell, no... I'm not giving up...

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