Can I apply for Supplemental Security Income if my spouse has earnings?

By: Disability Group

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that is designed to give financial aid to people with disabilities.  The program is different than Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in several ways.  The biggest difference is in eligibility: in order to receive SSDI, you must have worked and paid into Social Security for a certain amount of time.  However, you do not have to have any work history to receive SSI.  In order to receive SSI, you must have “limited” income and resources, as defined by the Social Security Administration.

What income counts?

Income that is included in the Social Security Administration’s calculation includes money you earn from work.  It also includes money you receive from other sources, such as Social Security benefits, workers compensation, unemployment benefits, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, friends and relatives.  Finally, income also includes “in-kind” income, which is any food or shelter that you receive free or at less than its fair market value.

 What are your resources?

Resources are the things that you own.  They include your cash, your bank accounts, stocks, and bonds, your land, your vehicles (except the first one), your personal property, your life insurance, and anything else that could be converted into cash and used for food or shelter. 

Please note that certain resources do not count for SSI

The resources that don’t count include;

a)      the home you live in

b)       household goods

c)       burial spaces  

d)      one vehicle, regardless of its value.

 Because this list is complicated, please refer to the SSA website for more details.

Do my spouse’s income and resources count as my income and resources for SSI?

Yes.  In order to be eligible for SSI in 2012, if you are not married, you may only have an income of $698/month.  However, if you are married, you and your spouse cannot make more than $1,048/month in total.  Those figures go up each year.  For more information on the current limits, click here. 

Generally, if you are not married, you cannot have more than $2,000 in resources.  If you are married, though, then you cannot have more than $3,000 in combined resources.